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FACTS: A Year Advancing Environmental Justice by the Biden Administration

White House Marks Year of Progress Since President Biden Activated All of Government to Advance Environmental Justice

Neighborhood of Breezy Point, on Long Island’s south shore, after Superstorm Sandy. President biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural infrastructure in American history. The law invests over $50 billion to make communities safer and infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change – droughts, heat waves, wildfires and floods – which disproportionately impact communities of color. These investments have already begun flowing to resilience projects in underserved and overburdened communities. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

You wouldn’t believe it from the obsessive focus of media – especially right wing media – on griping over inflation in prices over supply chain and increased demand (instead of higher wages and record jobs creation) and the inability to surmount the Republican obstruction over Build Back Better and Voting Rights legislation, but the Biden Administration has chalked up quite a record of progress in major issues, chief among them climate action and environmental justice. Here is a fact sheet from the White House:

Nearly one year ago on January 27, 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, laying the foundation for the most ambitious environmental justice agenda ever undertaken by an Administration and putting environmental justice and climate action at the center of the federal government’s work.

The executive order formalized the President and the Vice President’s commitment to ensuring that all federal agencies develop programs, policies, and activities to address the disproportionately high and adverse health, environmental, economic, climate, and other cumulative impacts on communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution.

Over the past year, senior administration leaders have worked tirelessly to secure historic and long overdue investments in environmental justice, advance science-based regulations that reduce environmental pollution, strengthen enforcement of the nation’s environmental and civil rights laws, and elevate the voices of environmental justice communities in the White House and throughout the Administration.

Mobilizing a Whole-of-Government Approach to Environmental Justice

  • Delivering on Justice40. As part of the President’s historic commitment to environmental justice, he created the Justice40 Initiative to ensure that federal agencies deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of climate, clean energy, affordable and sustainable housing, clean water, and other investments to underserved communities. In total, hundreds of federal programs, representing billions of dollars in annual investment — including programs that were funded or created in the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law — are being reimagined and transformed to maximize benefits to disadvantaged communities through the Justice40 Initiative. An initial cohort of Justice40 pilot programs are already working to maximize the delivery of benefits to disadvantaged communities, and some agencies are creating new programs to maximize the benefits of climate and clean energy programs directed to disadvantaged communities, such as the Communities LEAP (Local Energy Action Program) Pilot, the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize, and the Energy Storage for Social Equity Initiative. An annual Federal environmental justice scorecard, the first of which will be published this year, will report on agencies’ progress in the implementation of the Justice40 Initiative and other key environmental justice priorities and commitments.
     
  • Building a Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool. This screening tool, which will be continuously updated and refined based on public feedback and research, will improve the consistency across the federal government of how agencies implement programs and initiatives that are intended to benefit underserved communities. A beta version of the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool will be released for public review and comment early this year.
     
  • Establishing the First-Ever White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. This advisory body – which brings together national environmental justice leaders from across the country – ensures that the voices of overburdened and underserved communities are heard in the White House and reflected in the policies and investments of federal agencies. This body has provided extensive  recommendations that are informing the implementation of the Justice40 Initiative, the development of the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool, and other policies and programs across the Administration.
     
  • Renewing Focus on Environmental Equity and Justice across the Federal Government.  Agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of the Interior (DOI), the Department of Labor, the General Services Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have launched new or strengthened equity and justice offices, task forces, strategies and policies. USDA, for example, is standing up an independent Equity Commission to examine USDA programs to identify and make recommendations for how USDA can reduce barriers to access and advance equity. The Commission will also ensure accountability within and empower stakeholders in underserved communities outside of USDA to take fuller advantage of the department’s programs and services. To coordinate, lead, and elevate environmental justice policy and implementation across the government, the Administration has also established the White House Environmental Interagency Council led by Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory.

 
Protecting Communities from Toxic Pollution

  • Advancing an Ambitious Regulatory Agenda. Over the last year, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken more than 200 actions to repair the damage caused by the prior Administration’s rollbacks and implemented an ambitious regulatory agenda to address environmental justice. From revoking usage of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that has negative health impacts on farmworkers and children, to taking action on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a dangerous “forever chemical” linked to certain cancers, weakened immunity, thyroid disease, and other health effects – this Administration has prioritized rulemakings that protect the health and well-being of vulnerable communities. The President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children is also leading and coordinating cross-agency work to reduce pollution burdens and exposures, including lead exposure and asthma disparities in children of color.
     
  • Strengthening Enforcement of Environmental Laws. The Biden-Harris Administration has taken steps to enhance civil and criminal enforcement of environmental violations in communities overburdened by pollution. The EPA, for example, has taken steps to initiate early and expedited cleanup actions, deliver case outcomes that bring tangible benefits to overburdened communities, provide more robust monitoring and transparency tools, and bolster community engagement. The President’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget request for the Department of Justice includes $5.0 million in increased funding for the Environment and Natural Resources Division to expand its use of existing authorities in affirmative cases to advance environmental justice and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the impacts of climate change and to continue defensive and other work related to climate change.
     
  • Journey to Justice Tour. In November 2021, EPA Administrator Michael Regan embarked on a “Journey to Justice” tour, traveling to Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas to spotlight longstanding environmental justice concerns in historically overburdened communities and to hear firsthand from residents dealing with the impacts of pollution. Today, EPA is announcing a series of concrete actions to respond to the communities’ concerns, including more community air pollution monitoring, fenceline monitoring, inspections, and funding commitments.
     
  • Addressing Legacy Pollution. The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law delivers the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history. The law will invest $21 billion to clean up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine lands, and cap orphaned oil and gas wells that are sources of blight and pollution. These investments are happening now. EPA recently announced a historic $1 billion investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to initiate cleanup at 49 previously unfunded Superfund sites and accelerate cleanup at dozens of other sites across the country. Approximately 60 percent of the sites to receive funding for new cleanup projects are in historically underserved communities.

Recognizing that millions of Americans live within a mile of one of the tens of thousands of abandoned mines and oil and gas wells across the country, DOI is working to speed the deployment of initial grants from the law’s $16 billion in funding for mine and well clean-ups. DOI recently released initial guidance for states interested in applying for Federal grants that will fund the proper cleanup of orphaned oil and gas wells and well sites, with 26 states responding to express their intent to apply for formula grant funding.

  • Investing in Clean Drinking Water. The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will expand access to clean drinking water to all American families, eliminate the nation’s lead service lines, and help to clean up dangerous PFAS chemicals. Specifically, the law will invest $55 billion to expand access to clean drinking water and wastewater infrastructure for households, businesses, schools, and child care centers all across the country, including in Tribal Nations and rural disadvantaged communities that need it most. These investments will be guided by the Biden-Harris Administration’s Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan, a historic and ambitious effort to deploy catalytic resources from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law while leveraging every tool across Federal, state, and local government to deliver clean drinking water, replace lead pipes, and remediate lead paint. The plan includes over 15 new actions from more than 10 Federal agencies to ensure the Federal government is marshalling every resource and making rapid progress towards replacing all lead pipes in the next decade. The White House also has developed a whole-of government research plan on contaminants of emerging concern in drinking water that will support safe drinking water advisories, standards, and mitigation efforts that protect public health.
     
  • Improving Air Quality. The Biden-Harris Administration has taken decisive action to improve air quality – especially in disadvantaged communities. EPA has initiated rulemakings to reduce harmful air pollutants from heavy-duty trucks that heavily impact low-income communities and communities of color. EPA has also targeted leaded fuel used in small planes, which contributes to air pollution and accounts for 70 percent of lead borne emissions. In December 2021, EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation launched a $20 million grant competition that calls for proposals to conduct air pollution monitoring in communities experiencing disparities in health outcomes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on behalf of DOT, is proposing revised fuel economy standards for passenger cars and light trucks for model years 2024-2026; DOT estimates that this would increase the average fleet’s fuel efficiency by 12 miles per gallon by model year 2026.  In addition, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests $17 billion in modernizing ports and waterways, including funds that will support electrification of port infrastructure and provides the investment needed to deliver thousands of clean school buses to help reduce harmful environmental impacts on communities on the fence line of industry and transportation corridors. The law also provides a $5 billion investment in electric vehicles that will support the deployment of an equitable nationwide network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers.

Strengthening Resilience to Extreme Weather and Climate Change

  • Investing in Community Resilience. The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural infrastructure in American history. The law invests over $50 billion to make communities safer and infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change – droughts, heat waves, wildfires and floods – which disproportionately impact communities of color. These investments have already begun flowing to resilience projects in underserved and overburdened communities, including a $163 million investment to restore the Cano Martin Pena urban tidal channel and surrounding areas of the San Juan Bay National Estuary – an urban waterway project that will significantly improve the health and welfare of the surrounding communities in San Juan. In the coming year, the Army Corps will also engage with environmental justice communities in the development of a strategy to allocate $130 million for two pilot programs that target the needs of economically-disadvantaged communities.
     
  • Building a Coordinated Federal Response to Climate Impacts. To address the multi-faceted nature of climate change and its impact on frontline communities, the Biden-Harris Administration launched five cabinet secretary level Resilience Interagency Working Groups under the National Climate Task Force focused on coastal resilience, drought, extreme heat, flood, and wildfire. These Working Groups are tasked with recommending and coordinating actions, programs, and resources to mitigate climate impacts and subsequent recovery challenges that are often felt most heavily by underserved and overburdened communities. For example, the Extreme Heat Working Group was responsible for launching a coordinated, interagency effort to address extreme heat – including the first-ever employer mandates on heat risk –  to respond to extreme heat that threatens the lives and livelihoods of Americans, especially frontline and essential workers, pregnant workers, children, seniors, economically disadvantaged groups and those with underlying health conditions.
     
  • Advancing Equitable Outcomes for Disaster Survivors. Pursuant to Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities through the Federal Government, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) evaluated the equity of its programs and processes to reduce barriers to access experienced by underserved populations through programs that provide individual assistance to disaster survivors. Based on this review, FEMA has begun to amend its policies to provide greater flexibility and increase access to assistance for disaster survivors. The policy changes that FEMA is implementing include: expanding the types of documentation that homeowners and renters can use to prove ownership or occupancy; expanding financial assistance for home cleaning and sanitizing as well as for disaster-caused disability; and changing how the threshold for property losses are calculated to qualify for direct housing assistance, which helps ensure that damage evaluations are done in an equitable manner regardless of the size of the damaged home. As of mid-January 2021, these changes have resulted in the delivery of more than $120 million in financial assistance for mold remediation; $22 million for the cleaning and sanitization of homes; and more than 100,000 survivors receiving home repair and rental assistance as a result of expanded ownership and occupancy documentation requirements.  
     
  • Bolstering Tribal Community Resilience. The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes historic investments in Indigenous communities’ efforts to tackle the climate crisis and boost the resilience of physical and natural systems. Enabled by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Administration recently committed $40 million to the Espanola Valley, Rio Grande and Tributaries, New Mexico to restore and protect 958 acres of aquatic and riparian habitats that are an integral part of constructing social identity and transmission and retention of traditional knowledge for both the Pueblo of Santa Clara and Ohkay Owingeh. As part of this broader commitment to Tribal community resilience, DOI also recently awarded nearly $14 million to dozens of American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Nations and organizations to support their climate adaptation planning, ocean and coastal management planning, capacity building, and relocation, managed retreat, and protect-in-place planning for climate risks. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has invited Tribal leaders to consult on the agency’s implementation of its Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding, including $400 million to enhance fish passage (of which up to 15 percent will go directly to Tribes), $492 million to improve and restore natural infrastructure through the National Coastal Resilience Fund, and $172 million to support recovery of Pacific coastal salmon. Further, the President’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget includes an increase of more than $450 million to facilitate climate mitigation, resilience, adaptation, and environmental justice projects in Indian Country. This includes investments to begin the process of transitioning Tribal colleges to renewable energy through DOE, and a new Indian Land Consolidation Program through DOI that will enhance the ability of Tribal Nations to plan for and adapt to climate change and promote economic development on lands restored to Tribal ownership.
     
  • Empowering Communities with Actionable Climate Data. The Biden-Harris Administration launched a whole-of-government initiative to deliver accessible and actionable information to individuals and communities that are being hit by flooding, drought, wildfires, extreme heat, coastal erosion, and other intensifying climate impacts. This effort is designed to put authoritative and useful information into the hands of more Americans—from broadcast meteorologists sharing climate information with communities, to farmers checking drought outlooks, to businesses planning for extreme weather, to families making decisions about their homes and neighborhoods. By continuing to strengthen partnerships with community stakeholders, state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments, and businesses, the Biden-Harris Administration will ensure that Federal information services respond to evolving needs, particularly those of disadvantaged communities.

 
Delivering Clean, Affordable Energy

  • Lowering Energy Burdens. The Biden-Harris Administration has provided $8.2 billion in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds to States, Territories, Tribes, and Tribal Organizations, including $4.5 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP). Combined, these funds more than doubled the typical annual appropriations—the largest increase in the program’s history—to assist low-income households with meeting their home energy needs. HHS followed this with guidance providing flexible options for states, territories, Tribes, and Tribal organizations to adjust their LIHEAP programs to address extreme heat. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law doubles down on the Administration’s commitment to lowering energy burdens by investing: an additional $500 million in LIHEAP, which will prioritize eligible households with young children, the elderly, and people with disabilities; and a historic $3.5 billion in the Weatherization Assistance Program, reducing energy costs for more than 700,000 low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes, while ensuring health and safety and creating jobs.
     
  • Increasing Access to Clean Energy. The Biden-Harris Administration has prioritized the deployment of distributed and community scale energy resources in the underserved and overburdened communities that need them most. The Department of Agriculture launched the Rural Energy Pilot Program with $10 million in available grants for rural communities that are particularly underserved to deploy community-scale clean energy technologies, innovations, and solutions. DOE launched the Solar Automated Permit Processing (SolarAPP+) tool, an online platform that enables jurisdictions to rapidly approve residential solar installation permits. EPA launched new residential sector partnerships to accelerate efficiency and electrification retrofits with a focus on underserved residential households through its ENERGY STAR Home Upgrade Program. To coordinate these interagency actions, the Biden-Harris Administration launched a Distributed Energy Resources Working Group under the National Climate Task Force focused specifically on accelerating deployment of distributed energy resources in disadvantaged communities.
     
  • Modernizing the Grid. FEMA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are working collaboratively with the government of Puerto Rico to administer over $12 billion of Federal recovery funds earmarked for rebuilding and improving Puerto Rico’s grid. These funds are being used to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and support initiatives in Puerto Rico that focus on mitigation, adaptation, and resilience. DOE and FEMA have also launched a comprehensive study to evaluate pathways to meeting Puerto Rico’s 100 percent renewable energy targets in a way that achieves both short-term recovery goals and long-term energy resilience. The study, titled PR100, will be grounded in a commitment to environmental and energy justice and informed by extensive engagement with Puerto Rico stakeholders to reflect the island’s diverse priorities.

 
Enabling Equitable and Sustainable Communities

  • Increasing Affordable Transportation Options. The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law expands access to public transit and makes the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak – a major investment in transit equity. The law will invest $66 billion to provide healthy, sustainable transportation options for millions of Americans by modernizing and expanding rail networks across the country. The law also provides $1.2 billion annually through the Safe Streets and Roads for All program to fund Vision Zero plans and construct projects that will prevent transportation-related fatalities and serious injuries, which disproportionately impact rural communities and communities of color.  To ensure these funds facilitate equitable outcomes, DOT has solicited input from stakeholders on the data and assessment tools available to assess transportation equity.  The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also includes investments for a new program that will reconnect neighborhoods cut off by historic transportation investments and ensure new projects increase opportunity, advance racial equity and environmental justice, and promote affordable access. DOT also requested $110 million in its Fiscal Year 22 budget to create a new Thriving Communities program that would establish a new office to support communities with eliminating persistent transportation barriers and increasing access to jobs, school, and businesses.
     
  • Tackling Segregation, Discrimination, and Exclusion. The Biden-Harris Administration has restored the implementation of the “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” requirement, which requires HUD and its funding recipients, such as local communities, to take affirmative steps to remedy fair housing issues such as racially segregated neighborhoods, lack of housing choice, and unequal access to housing-related opportunities. HUD anticipates issuing a proposed rule that would help recipients of HUD funding identify needs and take meaningful actions to overcome patterns of residential segregation. To increase access to affordable housing, DOT’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the availability of approximately $10 million in competitive grant funds for FTA’s Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development Planning. The funds will support comprehensive planning efforts that help connect communities, and improve access to public transportation and affordable housing.
     
  • Investing in Healthy Housing and Buildings. The American Rescue Plan provided State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds that dozens of states and cities have used to develop and preserve affordable housing, as well as support for Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions that provide housing finance. Last week, the President launched the National Building Performance Standards Coalition to work with stakeholders, especially frontline communities, to address health, energy affordability, and emissions reductions goals across the buildings sector. Coalition members have agreed to ground their climate work in equity and justice through community-driven processes providing a voice for communities that were previously not invited to the table. These efforts will be bolstered by the more than $1.8 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support building sector policies, including $500 million for DOE’s State Energy Program, which provides funding and technical assistance to state, local, and Tribal governments to advance state-led energy initiatives; $550 million for DOE’s Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant program to assist eligible governments to develop, promote, implement, and manage energy efficiency and conservation policy and projects in their jurisdiction; $250 million for grants to capitalize state-level revolving loan funds for energy efficiency; and $500 million for competitive grants to fund efficiency and renewable improvements in public school facilities.

FACT SHEET: Biden Signs Executive Order Catalyzing America’s Clean Energy Economy Through Federal Sustainability

By shifting its own systems, infrastructure, and workforce to clean energy, the federal government will help create the economic thresholds to transition society from heat-trapping fossil fuels that are contributing to the climate crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

U.S. Government Will Lead by Example to Leverage Scale and Procurement Power to Drive Clean, Healthy, and Resilient Operations
 
Today, President Biden signed an executive order that demonstrates how the United States will leverage its scale and procurement power to lead by example in tackling the climate crisis. The executive order will reduce emissions across federal operations, invest in American clean energy industries and manufacturing, and create clean, healthy, and resilient communities. The President is building on his whole-of-government effort to tackle the climate crisis in a way that creates well-paying jobs, grows industries, and makes the country more economically competitive.
 
The President’s executive order directs the federal government to use its scale and procurement power to achieve five ambitious goals:

  • 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity (CFE) by 2030, at least half of which will be locally supplied clean energy to meet 24/7 demand;
  • 100 percent zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) acquisitions by 2035, including 100 percent zero-emission light-duty vehicle acquisitions by 2027;
  • Net-zero emissions from federal procurement no later than 2050, including a Buy Clean policy to promote use of construction materials with lower embodied emissions;
  • A net-zero emissions building portfolio by 2045, including a 50 percent emissions reduction by 2032; and
  • Net-zero emissions from overall federal operations by 2050, including a 65 percent emissions reduction by 2030.

In addition to the five new commitments that form the pillars of today’s executive action, the President also directed the federal government to orient its procurement and operations efforts in line with the following principles and goals:

  • Achieving climate resilient infrastructure and operations;
  • Building a climate- and sustainability-focused workforce;
  • Advancing environmental justice and equity;
  • Prioritizing the purchase of sustainable products, such as products without added perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS); and
  • Accelerating progress through domestic and international partnerships.

Today’s executive action is a part of the President’s broader commitment to increasing investments in America’s manufacturing industries and workers to build back our country better.  By transforming how the federal government builds, buys, and manages its assets and operations, the federal government will support the growth of America’s clean energy and clean technology industries, while accelerating America’s progress toward achieving a carbon pollution-free electricity sector by 2035.
 
President Biden’s executive order demonstrates how the United States government will lead by example to provide a strong foundation for American businesses to compete and win globally in the clean energy economy while creating well paying, union jobs at home. Today’s executive action further reinforces the President’s directive to Buy American and ensure that equity and environmental justice are key considerations in federal operations planning and decision making.
 
The White House also released a detailed description of this plan: The Federal Sustainability Plan: Catalyzing America’s Clean Energy Industries and Creating Jobs Through Federal Sustainability.
 
Together, the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Budget for Fiscal Year 2022, and Build Back Better Act will provide agencies with the funding necessary to achieve the goals of the executive order.
 
Catalyzing America’s Clean Energy Industries and Jobs through Federal Sustainability Executive Order
 
Through this executive order, the federal government will transform its portfolio of 300,000 buildings, fleet of 600,000 cars and trucks, and annual purchasing power of $650 billion in goods and services to:

  1. Transition federal infrastructure to zero-emission vehicles and buildings powered by carbon pollution-free electricity, which will reduce the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
     
  2. Make federal agencies more adaptive and resilient to the impacts of climate change, and increase the sustainability of federal supply chains, achieving net-zero emissions from federal procurement by 2050.  
     
  3. Mainstream sustainability within the federal workforce, advance equity and environmental justice, and leverage partnerships to accelerate progress.

Transition federal infrastructure to zero-emission vehicles and energy efficient buildings powered by carbon pollution-free electricity:

  • Achieve 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity use by 2030, including 50 percent on a 24/7 basis. The federal government will work with utilities, developers, technology firms, financiers and others to purchase electricity produced from resources that generate no carbon emissions, including solar and wind, for all its operations by 2030. Half of the federal government’s 100 percent carbon pollution-free annual electricity demand will be procured on a 24/7 basis, meaning that the federal government’s real-time demand for electricity will be met with clean energy every hour, every day, and produced within the same regional grid where the electricity is consumed. With the scope and scale of this electricity demand, the federal government expects it will catalyze the development of at least 10 gigawatts of new American clean electricity production by 2030, spurring the creation of new union jobs and moving the country closer to achieving a carbon pollution-free electricity sector by 2035.
     
  • Transition to 100 percent acquisition of zero-emission vehicles by 2035 for the federal vehicle fleet, including 100 percent light duty vehicle acquisition by 2027. The federal government will work with American vehicle, battery, and charging equipment manufacturers and installers to transform its fleet into the largest zero-emission vehicle fleet in the Nation, reaching 100 percent zero-emission vehicle acquisitions by 2035. This will accelerate the advancement of America’s industrial capacity to supply zero-emission vehicles and electric vehicle batteries and create and sustain good union jobs in manufacturing, engineering, and skilled-trades.
     
  • Modernize the federal buildings portfolio to reach net-zero emissions by 2045, including a 50 percent reduction in building emissions by 2032. The federal government will work across existing real property and during new building construction and major renovations to increase water and energy efficiency, reduce waste, electrify systems, and promote sustainable locations for federal facilities to strengthen the vitality and livability of the communities in which federal facilities are located. Additionally, the Biden-Harris Administration will implement the first-ever Federal Building Performance Standard, and will use performance contracting to improve buildings with no up-front costs.

Make federal agencies more adaptive and resilient to the impacts of climate change, and increase the sustainability of federal supply chains, achieving net-zero emissions from federal procurement by 2050.

  • Make federal agencies more adaptive and resilient to the impacts of climate change. The intensifying impacts of climate change present physical, operational, and financial risks to federal infrastructure, agency missions, and our services to the American people. Agencies will implement the actions identified through their October 7, 2021, Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plans and modernize federal policy, programs, operations, and infrastructure to support climate resilience investment. By taking action now to better manage and mitigate climate risks, we will minimize future disruptions and destruction to federal operations, assets, and programs and ensure the federal government can continue providing critical services to the Nation.
     
  • Increase the sustainability of federal supply chains, achieving net-zero emissions from federal procurement by 2050. The companies that supply the federal government are critical partners in achieving our climate goals and growing the economy and American jobs. Cutting emissions from the federal government’s procurement also means buying materials with a lower carbon footprint. The federal government will launch a “buy clean” initiative for low-carbon materials and prioritize the purchase of sustainable products, such as products without added perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Through these actions, the federal government will provide a large and stable signal to the market for sustainable and low-carbon goods made in America, advancing America’s industrial capacity to supply the goods and materials of the future while growing good jobs for American workers.

Mainstream sustainability within the federal workforce, advance equity and environmental justice, and leverage partnerships to accelerate progress.

  • Mainstream sustainability within the federal workforce. The federal government’s 4.2 million employees are critical stakeholders and leaders in the shift to sustainable and resilient operations. The federal government will build capacity through engagement, education, and training so that federal workers are ready to embed sustainability, climate adaptation, and environmental stewardship analysis and action in their jobs as we work to Build Back Better.
     
  • Advance equity and environmental justice. The federal government will advance the goals of the Administration’s Justice40 Initiative by ensuring that economic equity and environmental justice are key considerations in operations planning and decision making. A federal environmental justice representative will serve on the newly established Chief Sustainability Officer Council. To incorporate equity, agencies will implement this executive order consistent with the President’s Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, which helps ensure that government contracting and procurement opportunities are available on an equal basis.
     
  • Leverage partnerships to accelerate progress. Collaboration with leading American unions, businesses, States, Tribes, municipalities, and other countries will accelerate progress and catalyze greater climate action at home and abroad. The federal government will build upon its newly launched Greening Government Initiative, which convenes governments around the world to collaborate on greening government operations. Further, the Administration will launch a Presidential Sustainability Executives Program, placing senior leaders from the private and non-profit sectors to serve across the federal government, bringing innovative perspectives and critical expertise to achieve these ambitious, and imperative, sustainability and climate preparedness goals.

Actions Agencies are Taking to Meet the Goals of the Sustainability Executive Order

Across the federal government, agencies are moving expeditiously to meet the President’s call for action and are positioned to meet the ambitious goals of his executive order and Federal Sustainability Plan. Highlights are included below:
 
100 percent CFE by 2030, including 50 percent on a 24/7 Basis

  • In 2022, the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Edwards Air Force Base in California will add 520 megawatts (MW) of CFE to the grid by completing one of the country’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) array projects and in the process creating more than 1,000 union and other construction jobs.
     
  • In 2022, DOD’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii will complete construction of the nation’s largest 100 percent clean energy microgrid. By leveraging a 14-megawatt (MW) solar facility paired with a 70 megawatt-hour (MWh) battery energy storage system sited on the base, the Pacific Missile Range Facility can become self-sufficient for all its electricity needs in the event of a loss of transmission feed from the utility grid.

100 Percent ZEV Acquisitions by 2035, including 100 percent Light-Duty ZEV Acquisitions by 2027

  • In 2021, the Department of the Interior (DOI) began transitioning its fleet of U.S. Park Police lightweight motorcycles and dirt bikes to 100 percent ZEVs at its Washington, D.C., New York City, and San Francisco locations, with plans to reach a 100 ZEV fleet by 2025.
     
  • In early 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin field testing the Ford Mustang Mach-E ZEV for use in its law enforcement fleet, which currently consists of over 30,000 vehicles.

Net-Zero Emissions Buildings by 2045, including a 50 percent reduction by 2032

  • In 2023, the Department of Transportation will complete its Volpe Transportation Center project that collapses six buildings into a low-emissions building with rooftop solar PV panels, ZEV charging stations for the federal fleet and employee vehicles, green and cool roof technologies, a rainwater reclamation and reuse system, and a climate-resilient above-grade data center.
     
  • By 2022, the Department of the Treasury will have completed the majority of its energy infrastructure improvements at an Internal Revenue Service Center outside of New York City through a 17-year, $30.9 million energy savings performance contract (ESPC). The ESPC has so far delivered nearly $14 million in capital improvements and $2.2 million in annual utility bill savings. ESPCs allow federal agencies to procure energy savings and facility improvements with no up-front capital costs or special appropriations from Congress.

Net-Zero Emissions Procurement by 2050

  • In 2021, DOD collected information from its suppliers on their efforts to measure and report greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. DOD is using this information to develop low-carbon purchasing guidelines that will become part of its standard operating procedures.
     
  • In 2022, the General Services Administration (GSA) will require contractors to disclose the embodied carbon of building materials for new building and major modernization contracts. Embodied carbon refers to the greenhouse gas emissions (mostly carbon dioxide) resulting from the mining, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, transportation, and installation of materials. 

Net-Zero Emissions from overall Federal Operations by 2050, including a 65 percent reduction by 2030

  • By January 2022, DOD’s Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany in Georgia anticipates achieving net-zero energy status.

Climate Resilient Infrastructure and Operations

  • In 2021, more than 20 major federal agencies released plans describing how they will integrate climate-readiness across missions and programs and bolster resilience of Federal assets. For example, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is collecting building-level data across HUD programs to map existing climate risks to help inform the Department on how to best address climate impacts and protect HUD-assisted assets and their occupants.
     
  • DOD is integrating climate change considerations across its strategic guidance and planning documents, including the National Defense Strategy, which will be released in 2022.

Develop a Climate- and Sustainability-Focused Workforce

  • The Department of State is assessing its climate and sustainability management staffing and training gaps to inform a longer-term plan that will prioritize areas of concern and greatest needs.
     
  • In 2022, the Department of Labor will launch a new training course for its senior leadership team on climate change management considerations and environmental justice principals. The Department will also include climate change literacy in new employee orientation material.

Advance Environmental Justice and Equity

  • In 2021, GSA launched an Environmental Justice and Equity Task Group to identify and propose effective approaches to improve environmental justice and equity in federal sustainable building processes, enhancing engagement with communities and key partners throughout the building lifecycle.
     
  • In 2021, the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) convened Climate and Equity roundtables across the country to gather feedback to inform how NOAA provides climate services, engages with underserved and vulnerable communities, and strengthens internal processes to respond to expressed needs.
     
  • As outlined in its October 2021 Strategic Framework for Addressing Climate ChangeDHS is incorporating the need to achieve equity as guiding principle through all lines of effort described in the framework.

Accelerate Progress Through Domestic and International Partnerships

  • In 2021, the United States and Canada launched the Greening Government Initiative, a first-of-its-kind initiative that will enable countries to share lessons learned, promote innovation, and accelerate national efforts to green government operations and help meet Paris Agreement commitments. Today, the 39 GGI participating countries are beginning share key organizational features and policies and identify potential areas for collaboration.
     
  • In 2020, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) New England’s Boston Healthcare System partnered with National Grid on a plan to transition its 70-car fleet to ZEV. Consistent with National Grid’s recommendations, VA is working with GSA to procure approximately 25 ZEVs in the 2022 acquisition cycle.

Biden: Infrastructure Deal Will Strengthen Nation’s Resilience, Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Help Battle Climate Crisis

Solar array at farm in the Finger Lakes of New York. The Bipartisan infrastructure Deal passed by Congress will help strengthen the nation’s resilience to extreme weather and climate change, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, expand access to clean drinking water and build up a clean power grid © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This fact sheet provided by the White House spells out how the bipartisan infrastructure package just passed will arm the government in battling the climate crisis:

President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal passed by Congress will strengthen our nation’s resilience to extreme weather and climate change while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, expanding access to clean drinking water, building up a clean power grid, and more.

Here’s more: 

President Biden has made combatting the climate crisis a central priority of his Administration, including throughout his legislative agenda. Climate change is already impacting almost every aspect of life in the United States. Extreme heat waves, catastrophic wildfires, and severe drought are taking American lives and livelihoods. In the last year alone, extreme weather has cost America more than $100 billion – often hitting historically underserved groups the hardest, particularly low-income communities, communities of color, and people with disabilities. In just the last few months, nearly 1 in 3 Americans have been hit by a severe weather disaster and 2 in 3 Americans have suffered through dangerous heat waves. Delayed action on climate also sets us back in the global race on manufacturing and innovation, preventing us from harnessing the economic opportunity that this moment represents.
 
As President Biden emphasized at COP26 in Glasgow, climate change poses an existential threat to people, economies, and countries across the world – and it requires swift and bold action to reduce emissions and strengthen resilience. President Biden has been clear: the climate crisis is a blinking code red for our nation. We must take decisive action to tackle the climate crisis in a way that strengthens our nation’s resilience, cuts consumer costs, and ensures the U.S. can compete and win in the race for the 21st century. This moment demands urgent investments the American people want and our nation needs – investments that will bolster America’s competitiveness, resilience, and economy all while creating good-paying jobs, saving people money, and building an equitable clean energy economy of the future. 
 
President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal passed by Congress will strengthen our nation’s resilience to extreme weather and climate change while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, expanding access to clean drinking water, building up a clean power grid, and more. When coupled with the Build Back Better Framework, these historic investments will help reduce our emissions by well over one gigaton this decade – ensuring we meet President Biden’s commitment to reduce U.S. emissions by 50-52% from 2005 levels in 2030, create a 100% carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035, and achieve a net-zero economy by 2050. Together, these once-in-a-generation investments will unlock the full potential of a clean energy economy that combats climate change, advances environmental justice, and creates good-paying, union jobs.
 
President Biden promised to work across the aisle and unify the country to deliver results for working families. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is a critical step towards reaching President Biden’s goal of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050, and is paired with the Build Back Better Framework to realize his full vision to grow our economy, lower consumer costs, create jobs, reduce climate pollution, and ensure more Americans can participate fully and equally in our economy.

BIPARTISIAN INFRASTRUCTURE DEAL
 
Public Transit
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal makes the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak – helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions by repairing, upgrading, and modernizing the nation’s transit infrastructure. The deal will invest $66 billion to provide healthy, sustainable transportation options for millions of Americans by modernizing and expanding transit and rail networks across the country. It will replace thousands of transit vehicles, including buses, with clean, zero emission vehicles. And, it will benefit communities of color who are twice as likely to take public transportation and often lack sufficient public transit options. In addition, it will help transit workers who are disproportionally workers of color.

Electric Vehicle Infrastructure
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will invest $7.5 billion to build out the first-ever national network of EV chargers in the United States. The deal is also a critical element in the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan to accelerate the adoption of EVs to address the climate crisis and support domestic manufacturing jobs. The deal will provide funding for deployment of EV chargers along highway corridors to facilitate long-distance travel and within communities to provide convenient charging where people live, work, and shop – and funding will have a particular focus on rural, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach communities.

Clean School Buses
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will deliver thousands of electric school buses nationwide, including in rural communities, to help school districts across the country buy clean, American-made, zero emission buses and replace the yellow school bus fleet for America’s children. The deal invests in zero- and low-emission school buses, in addition to more than $5 billion in funding for public transit agencies to adopt low- and no-emissions buses. These investments will drive demand for American-made batteries and vehicles, creating jobs and supporting domestic manufacturing, while also removing diesel buses from some of our most vulnerable communities. In addition, they will help the more than 25 million children and thousands of bus drivers who breathe polluted air on their rides to and from school. Diesel air pollution is linked to asthma and other health problems that hurt our communities and cause students to miss school, particularly in communities of color and Tribal communities.

Modern Infrastructure
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal invests $17 billion in port infrastructure and $25 billion in airports to address repair and maintenance backlogs, reduce congestion and emissions near ports and airports, and drive electrification and other low-carbon technologies. Modern, resilient, and sustainable port, airport, and freight infrastructure will support U.S. competitiveness by removing bottlenecks and expediting commerce and reduce the environmental impact on neighboring communities.

Resilience
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural systems in American history. Millions of Americans feel the effects of climate change each year when their roads wash out, airport power goes down, or schools get flooded. People of color are more likely to live in areas most vulnerable to flooding and other climate change-related weather events. The deal makes our communities safer and our infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change and cyber-attacks, with an investment of over $50 billion to protect against droughts, heat, and floods – in addition to a major investment in the weatherization of American homes.

Clean Drinking Water
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will expand access to clean drinking water to all American families, eliminate the nation’s lead service lines and help to clean up the dangerous chemical PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl). Currently, up to 10 million American households and 400,000 schools and child care centers lack access to safe drinking water. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will invest $55 billion to expand access to clean drinking water for households, businesses, schools, and child care centers all across the country. From rural towns to struggling cities, the deal will invest in water infrastructure and eliminate lead service pipes, including in Tribal Nations and disadvantaged communities that need it most.

Legacy Pollution
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal delivers the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history by cleaning up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaiming abandoned mines, and capping orphaned oil and gas wells. In thousands of rural and urban communities around the country, hundreds of thousands of former industrial and energy sites are now idle – sources of blight and pollution. Proximity to a Superfund site can lead to elevated levels of lead in children’s blood. Millions of Americans also live within a mile of the tens of thousands of abandoned mines and oil and gas wells – a large, continuing course of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is a major cause of climate change. The bill will invest $21 billion to clean up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land, and cap orphaned oil and gas wells. These projects will remediate environmental harms, address the legacy pollution that harms the public health of communities, create good-paying, union jobs, and advance long overdue environmental justice This investment will benefit communities of color like the 26% of Black Americans and 29% of Hispanic Americans who live within three miles of a Superfund site – a higher percentage than for Americans overall.
 
Clean Energy Transmission
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal’s more than $65 billion investment is the largest investment in clean energy transmission and the electric grid in American history. It upgrades our power infrastructure, including by building thousands of miles of new, resilient transmission lines to facilitate the expansion of renewable energy. It creates a new Grid Deployment Authority, invests in research and development for advanced transmission and electricity distribution technologies, and promotes smart grid technologies that deliver flexibility and resilience. It also invests in demonstration projects and research hubs for next generation technologies like advanced nuclear reactors, carbon capture, and clean hydrogen.

COP26: Biden, Global Leaders Commit to Addressing Climate Crisis Through Infrastructure Development

At COP26, Biden and global leaders agreed that climate-smart infrastructure development should play an important role in boosting economic recovery and sustainable job creation. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Building on the June 2021 commitment of G7 Leaders to launch a values-driven, high-standard, and transparent infrastructure partnership to meet global infrastructure development needs, U.S. President Biden and European Commission President von der Leyen hosted a discussion on the margins of COP26 with UK Prime Minister Johnson, Barbadian Prime Minister Mottley, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, Colombian President Duque, Ecuadorian President Lasso, Democratic Republic of the Congo President Tshisekedi, Indian Prime Minister Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida, and Nigerian President Buhari on how infrastructure initiatives must simultaneously advance prosperity and combat the climate crisis, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. 

Global leaders discussed how the Build Back Better World, Global Gateway and Clean Green Initiatives will jumpstart investment, sharpen focus, and mobilize resources to meet critical infrastructure needs to support economic growth, while ensuring that this infrastructure is clean, resilient, and consistent with a net-zero future.  President Lasso, Prime Minister Modi, President Buhari, and President Duque shared their perspectives on the challenges their countries have previously faced with infrastructure development and principles they would like to see from future infrastructure initiatives.  UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance Mark Carney and World Bank Group President David Malpassspoke on the imperative of mobilizing investment from the private sector, international financial institutions and multilateral development banks, including through country platforms, to achieve these goals. 

***

President Biden, President von der Leyen, and Prime Minister Johnson endorsed five key principles for infrastructure development:

1.Infrastructure should be climate resilient and developed through a climate lens.

We commit to build resilient, low- and zero-carbon infrastructure systems that are aligned with the pathways towards net-zero emissions by 2050, which are needed to keep the goal of limiting global average temperature change to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach. Further, we commit to viewing all projects carried out through infrastructure development partnerships through the lens of climate change.

2.Strong and inclusive partnerships between host countries, developed country support, and the private sector are critical to developing sustainable infrastructure.

Infrastructure designed, financed, and constructed in partnership with those whom it benefits will last longer, be more inclusive, and generate greater and more sustainable development impacts. We will consult with stakeholders—including representatives of civil society, governments, NGOs, and the private sector to better understand their priorities and development needs.

3.Infrastructure should be financed, constructed, developed, operated, and maintained in accordance with high standards.

We resolve to uphold high standards for infrastructure investments, promoting the implementation of the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investments as the baseline. Environmental, Social and Governance standards help safeguard against graft and other forms of corruption; mitigate against climate risks and risks of ecosystem degradation; promote skills transfer and preserve labor protections; avoid unsustainable costs for taxpayers; and, crucially, promote long-term economic and social benefits for partner countries.

4.A new paradigm of climate finance—spanning both public and private sources—is required to mobilize the trillions needed to meet net-zero by 2050 and keep 1.5 degrees within reach.

The world must mobilize and align the trillions of dollars in capital over the next three decades to meet net-zero by 2050, the majority of which will be needed in developing and emerging economies. Mobilizing capital at this scale requires a collaborative effort from all of us, including governments, the private sector, and development finance institutions, as well as better mechanisms to match finance and technical assistance with country projects, including through country partnerships.

5.Climate-smart infrastructure development should play an important role in boosting economic recovery and sustainable job creation.

Infrastructure investment should also drive job creation and support inclusive economic recovery. We believe our collective efforts to combat the climate crisis can present the greatest economic opportunity of our time: the opportunity to build the industries of the future through equitable, inclusive, and sustainable economic development worldwide.

***
President Biden, European Commission President von der Leyen, and Prime Minister Johnson called on countries around the world to make similar commitments and take action to spur a global transformation towards reliable, climate-smart infrastructure.

Top 10 Programs in Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act That You May Not Have Heard About

Wildfires continue to plague the West. Some 4.5 million homes are at risk of wildfire. The bipartisan infrastructure bill invests $8 billion in wildfire risk reduction by providing funding for community wildfire defense grants, mechanical thinning, controlled burns, the Collaborative Forest Restoration Program, and firefighting resources. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The White House provided this fact sheet of “Top 10 Programs” in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act:

  1. Weatherization: Two-thirds of low-income U.S. households have high energy burdens, meaning they spend more than 6 percent of their income on utility bills. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will invest a historic $3.5 billion in the Weatherization Assistance Program, reducing energy costs for more than 700,000 low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes, while ensuring health and safety and creating jobs.
     
  2. Wildfires: One estimate found that 4.5 million homes in the United States are at risk of wildfire. The bill invests $8 billion in wildfire risk reduction by providing funding for community wildfire defense grants, mechanical thinning, controlled burns, the Collaborative Forest Restoration Program, and firefighting resources.
     
  3. Floods: The cost of flood damage was approximately $17 billion annually in the last decade, and is expected to increase significantly due climate-related extreme weather and rising sea levels. The bill invests $12 billion in flood mitigation, including funding for FEMA flood mitigation grants, making infrastructure investments to increase coastal resilience, and improving mapping and data so that households and businesses can better protect themselves from future flood events.
     
  4. Brownfields and superfund: 26% of Black Americans and 29% of Hispanic Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site, a higher percentage than for Americans overall. Proximity to a Superfund site can lead to elevated levels of lead in children’s blood. The deal invests $5 billion in addressing legacy pollution at these sites, creating good-paying union jobs and advancing economic and environmental justice.
     
  5. Natural gas wells and coal mines: In thousands of rural and urban communities around the country, hundreds of thousands of former industrial and energy sites, including orphan wells and abandoned land mines, are now idle – sources of blight and pollution. The deal invests $16 billion in creating good-paying union jobs capping these wells and mines.
     
  6. Pipeline safety: More than 20,000 miles of cast iron pipelines—much of which was installed in the 1800’s and early 1900’s—transports natural gas underneath communities in the U.S. This infrastructure, which is prone to leaks and fugitive methane emissions, is mostly located in disadvantaged areas including older cities like Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, New York, and St. Louis.  Since 2010, the U.S. has experienced thousands of pipeline incidents, resulting in hundreds of injuries and deaths, tens of thousands of evacuations, and more than $4 billion in damages. The bill includes $1 billion for the “Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure Safety and Modernization Grant Program” to modernize natural gas distribution pipelines, reducing incidents and fatalities, and avoiding economic losses.
     
  7. Battery manufacturing: Today, the U.S. relies heavily on importing advanced battery components from abroad, exposing the nation to supply chain vulnerabilities that threaten to disrupt the availability and cost of these technologies, as well as the workforce that manufactures them. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will invest $6B to spur U.S. advanced battery processing, manufacturing, and recycling, creating good-paying jobs and enabling American manufacturers to win the 21st century.  
     
  8. Safe Streets: Over 36,000 Americans died in motor vehicle crashes in 2019, including over 6,200 pedestrians and about 850 bicyclists. The United States has one of the highest traffic fatality rates in the industrialized world, double the rate in Canada and quadruple that in Europe. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal includes $5 billion for a first-of-its kind “Safe Streets for All” program to fund state and local “vision zero” plans and other improvements to reduce crashes and fatalities, especially for the most vulnerable of roadways users.
     
  9. Transit station ADA program: More than 30 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, nearly 1,000 transit stations are still not fully accessible, which prevents millions of older Americans and individuals with disabilities from fully enjoying public transit. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal includes a total of $2 billion for transit ADA, including $1.75 billion for All Stations Accessibility and $250 million for Enhanced Mobility for Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities. These programs will remove barriers to transportation service and expand transportation mobility options for Americans across the country.
     
  10. Cybersecurity: The recent cybersecurity breaches of federal government data systems, critical infrastructure, and American businesses underscore the importance and urgency of strengthening U.S. cybersecurity capabilities. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will invest about $2 billion to modernize and secure federal, state, and local IT and networks; protect critical infrastructure and utilities; and support public or private entities as they respond to and recover from significant cyberattacks and breaches.

Biden Administration Invests $1 Billion To Protect Communities, Families, and Businesses Before Climate Disaster Strikes

Funding Builds on Efforts to Enhance Climate Change Resilience as Biden Visits FEMA Ahead of Hurricane, Wildfire Season

Superstorm Sandy decimates the community of Breezy Point, on the south shore of Long Island. President Biden is taking a whole-of-government approach to climate resilience, to mitigate the worst impacts. Resilience is a key focus of the Biden’s National Climate Task Force as they drive a number of actions to strengthen the resilience of our infrastructure, forests, coastal areas, oceans, range lands, and farm lands to drought, wildfire, heatwaves and other climate impacts. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Earlier this week, President Biden met with members of his homeland security and climate teams at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C. to receive an update on preparations for the 2021 hurricane season. In advance of the President’s visit, the Administration announced it will direct $1 billion for communities, states, and Tribal governments into pre-disaster mitigation resources to prepare for extreme weather events and other disasters. The Administration also announced the development of next generation climate data systems at NASA to help understand and track how climate change is impacting communities. This fact sheet was provided by the White House:
 
In 2020, the United States experienced a record year for extreme weather, including an unprecedented 30 named storms in the Atlantic Basin. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is anticipating another above-normal hurricane season this year.
 
The costs of extreme weather events, in lives and economic damage, have been staggering. Last year alone, communities across the United States suffered through 22 separate weather and climate-related disasters with loses exceeding $1 billion each, shattering previous records, at a cumulative price tag of nearly $100 billion. This year has already wrought devastation, as unusual winter storms crossed Texas and the south.
 
On May 20th, NOAA released its 2021 Atlantic hurricane season outlook. Forecasters predict a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season, and a 10% chance of a below-normal season. Additionally, forecasters expect a likely range of 13 to 20 named storms, of which six to 10 could became hurricanes.
 
As climate change threatens to bring more extreme events like increased floods, sea level rise, and intensifying droughts and wildfires, it is our responsibility to better prepare and support communities, families, and businesses before disaster – not just after. This includes investing in climate research to improve our understanding of these extreme weather events and our decision making on climate resilience, adaptation, and mitigation. It also means ensuring that communities have the resources they need to build resilience prior to these crises.
 
President Biden has elevated the importance of climate resilience on the global stage and prioritized resilience in his investment agenda, including in the American Jobs Plan and the FY22 discretionary request.
 
NEW STEPS TO ENHANCE CLIMATE RESILIENCE
 
President Biden continued to act through a whole-of-government approach in support of climate resilience goals. The Administration is directing $1 billion in pre-disaster mitigation resources to communities, and it is announcing next generation climate data systems that will help us understand and track how climate change impacts communities.

The Administration announced it will:

  • Provide $1 billion for communities through FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program. FEMA will provide $1 billion in 2021 for the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program, a portion of which will be targeted to disadvantaged communities. BRIC supports states, local communities, tribes, and territories in undertaking pre-disaster hazard mitigation projects, reducing the risks they face from disasters and natural hazards. This level of funding level is double the amount provided last year. The program seeks to categorically shift the federal focus from reactive disaster spending and toward research-supported, proactive investment in community resilience so that when the next hurricane, flood, or wildfire comes, communities are better prepared.
     
  • Develop and launch a new NASA mission concept for an Earth System Observatory. As the number of extreme weather events increases due to climate change, the ability to forecast and monitor natural disasters is integral for the nation’s preparation, mitigation, and resilience. NASA’s Earth System Observatory will be a new architecture of advanced spaceborne Earth observation systems, providing the world with an unprecedented understanding of the critical interactions between Earth’s atmosphere, land, ocean, and ice processes. These processes determine how the changing climate will play out at regional and local levels, on near and long-term time scales.

 
CONTINUE A WHOLE-OF-GOVERNMENT APPROACH TO CLIMATE RESILIENCE
 
The action builds on the whole-of-government approach President Biden is taking to climate resilience. Resilience is a key focus area of the National Climate Task Force as they drive a number of actions to strengthen the resilience of our infrastructure, forests, coastal areas, oceans, range lands, and farm lands to drought, wildfire, heatwaves, and other climate impacts.
 
Examples of actions to date across the federal government include:

  • Issuing an Executive Order on Climate-Related Financial Risk. Last week, President Biden issued an Executive Order on Climate-Related Financial Risk that will help the American people better understand how climate change can impact their financial security. It will strengthen the U.S. financial system and it will inform concrete decisions that the federal government can take to mitigate the risks of climate change. With so much at stake, this Executive Order ensures that the right rules are in place to properly analyze and mitigate these risks. That includes disclosing these risks to the public, and empowering the American people to make informed financial decisions.
     
  • Developing agency climate adaptation and resilience plans. The Administration has taken significant steps to revitalize Federal climate adaptation and resilience by initiating the development of Agency Climate Action Plans as required by Executive Order 14008. The Plans, which are being developed by 36 agencies, broadened the scope of relevant climate adaptation and resilience experts to include acquisitions and finance professionals and focus on integrating climate information in the management of procurement, real property, public lands and water, and financial programs for climate informed decisions.
     
  • Setting a responsible flood risk standard for the federal government. Through his Executive Order on Climate-Related Financial Risk, President Biden reinstated the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard to improve the resilience of American communities and federal assets against the impacts of flood damage, which is predicted to increase over time due to the effects of climate change. The Standard requires federal agencies to consider current and future flood risk when taxpayer dollars are used to build or rebuild in floodplains. Implementing guidelines offer a toolkit of flexible and practical options to implement these protections.
     
  • Investing in resilience through the American Jobs Plan and the FY22 budget. Resilience and adaptation are critical priorities for President Biden and his administration. Americans around the country have been feeling the effect of climate change and underinvestment in resilience. Investments to make our infrastructure more resilient are a key piece of the American Jobs Plan and the President’s FY 2022 Discretionary Request. In addition to supporting the goal that every dollar spent on rebuilding our infrastructure during the Biden administration will be used to prevent, reduce and withstand the impacts of the climate crisis – the American Jobs Plan calls for $50 billion in dedicated resilience investments. The President’s FY22 Discretionary Request also includes significant budget increases to enable incorporation of climate impacts into disaster planning and projects to ensure that the Nation is rebuilding smarter and safer for the future.
     
  • Integrating resilience into the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. The White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) was established by President Biden’s Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad to fulfill his and Vice President Harris’s commitment to confronting longstanding environmental injustices and ensure that historically marginalized and polluted, overburdened communities have greater input on federal policies and decisions. The WHEJAC members are to provide advice and recommendations to the Environmental Justice Interagency Council and the Chair of CEQ on a whole-of-government approach to environmental justice, including, but not limited to, climate change mitigation, resilience, and disaster management.
     
  • Establishing an Interagency Working Group to better prepare and respond to drought. The National Climate Task Force, as part of its whole-of-government consideration of climate issues, established an Interagency Working Group to address worsening drought conditions in the West and to support farmers, ranchers, Tribes, and communities impacted by ongoing water shortages. The Working Group is co-chaired by the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture and will build upon existing resources to help coordinate across the federal government, working in partnership with state, local, and Tribal governments to address the needs of communities suffering from drought-related impacts. DOI and USDA have already announced more than $25 million to assist farmers, ranchers and communities in the Klamath Basin to help them in the face of a severe drought.
     
  • Increasing investments in forest restoration to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire. Climate change is increasing the severity and frequency of wildfire seasons, which are transforming our Nation’s forests at an unprecedented rate, and destroying homes and businesses. The Biden-Harris Administration’s discretionary budget request provides nearly $1.7 billion for high-priority hazardous fuels and forest resilience projects at a scope and scale to meet the challenge we face, an increase of $476 million over the 2021 enacted level. This funding supports the Administration’s science-based approach to vegetation management at the Forest Service and DOI to protect watersheds, wildlife habitat, and the wildland-urban interface.
     
  • Launching a resilience focused task force at the Department of the Interior. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Deb Haaland announced a new Climate Task Force at DOI that will develop a strategy to reduce climate pollution; improve and increase adaptation and resilience to the impacts of climate change; address current and historic environmental injustice; protect public health; and conserve DOI managed lands. Its mission will include supporting the development and use of the best available science to evaluate the greenhouse gas emissions and associated climate change impacts of Federal land uses as well as opportunities to increase carbon sequestration; to predict the effects of climate change on public lands and land uses; and to assess and adopt measures to increase the resilience and adaptive capacity of public lands. 
     
  • Launching a new approach to climate change adaptation and resilience at the Department of Homeland Security. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced the launch of the DHS Climate Change Action Group, a coordinating body comprised of the Department’s senior leadership that will drive urgent action to address the climate crisis and will report directly to the Secretary. DHS also recently published a public Request for Information on how FEMA can ensure its programs advance equity and increase resilience for all – especially among those who are disproportionately at risk from the impacts of climate change.
     
  • Utilizing a Climate Assessment Tool to Analyze Climate Vulnerabilities at the Department of Defense. Climate change has been identified by the Department of Defense (DoD) as a critical national security threat and threat multiplier. As a result, DoD has undertaken assessments of the impacts that the climate crisis has on American military instillations. The DoD announced a plan to complete climate exposure assessments on all major U.S. installations within 12 months and all major installations outside the continental U.S. within 24 months using the Defense Climate Assessment Tool (DCAT). The DCAT helps identify the climate hazards to which DoD installations are most exposed, which is the first step in addressing the potential physical harm, security impacts, and degradation in readiness resulting from global climate change.
     
  • Tracking the indicators of climate change at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. For the first time in four years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has updated and relaunched its Climate Change Indicators. This comprehensive resource presents compelling and clear evidence of changes to our climate reflected in rising temperatures, increased ocean acidity, sea level rise, and changing river flooding, droughts, heat waves, and wildfires, among other indicators. The long-overdue update to this crucial scientific resource shows that climate change has become even more evident, stronger, and extreme, and underscores the urgency for action on the climate crisis.
     
  • Releasing new U.S. Climate Normals at the NOAA. NOAA recently released the U.S. Climate Normals, a large suite of data products that provide information about typical climate conditions for thousands of locations across the United States. Normals act both as a ruler to compare today’s weather and tomorrow’s forecast, and as a predictor of conditions in the near future. These data products assist agencies and State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments, communities, and businesses in preparing for and adapting to the impacts of climate change.
     
  • Investing in grid and community resilience at the Department of Energy. The Department of Energy is investing in grid resilience and energy resilience, including microgrid strategies, through research under the Grid Modernization Initiative. In partnership with the National Laboratories, the Department is developing a set of comprehensive energy resilience metrics and modeling capabilities to mitigate climate impacts to our energy infrastructure. The Department is also investing in projects that improve community resilience by deploying energy storage and microgrid technologies. In addition, for communities across the West, the Department is working with the Western Area Power Administration and Bonneville Power Administration to aggressively forecast, model and mitigate the potential impacts of severe climate-change-related droughts and fires on electricity systems.
     
  • Building climate and resilience considerations into transportation discretionary grants at the U.S. Department of Transportation. The U.S. Department of Transportation is incorporating climate and resilience criteria into over $2 billion in discretionary grant programs, including the RAISE, INFRA, and Port Infrastructure Development grant programs. This will promote transportation investments that are future-proofed against extreme weather events. In addition, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has also issued new guidance for planning and design for highways in coastal areas.

Global Leaders Respond to Biden’s Call for Action to Address Climate Crisis

Jokulsarlon Glacier, Iceland. Iceland was one of 40 participants at the roundtable at President Joe Biden’s Leaders Climate Summit, responding to the call for action to address the climate crisis. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This summary of outcomes of President Joe Biden’s historic Leaders on Climate, held April 22-23, 2021, was provided by the White House:

 After fulfilling his promise to bring America back into the Paris Agreement, President Biden convened 40 world leaders in a virtual Leaders Summit on Climate this week to rally the world in tackling the climate crisis and meeting the demands of science. The United States and other countries announced ambitious new climate targets ensuring that nations accounting for half of the world’s economy have now committed to the emission reductions needed globally to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5-degrees C within reach.  Many leaders underscored the urgency of other major economies strengthening their ambition as well on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in November 2021 in Glasgow.

The Summit, which was the largest virtual gathering of world leaders, convened the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (the world’s 17 largest economies and greenhouse gas emitters) and included the leaders of other countries especially vulnerable to climate impacts or charting innovative pathways to a net-zero economy.  President Biden was joined at the Summit by Vice President Harris, members of the President’s Cabinet, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, and National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, as well as senior representatives of other countries and leaders from business and civil society. The full agenda and list of participants is available at https://www.state.gov/leaders-summit-on-climate/.

With the science telling us that the world needs to significantly increase the scale and speed of climate action, President Biden considered it vital to host this Summit within his first 100 days in office to make clear that it is a top U.S. priority to combat the climate crisis at home and abroad.   

Vice President Harris opened the Summit by emphasizing the intertwined imperatives of addressing the climate crisis, creating jobs, and protecting the most vulnerable communities.  Her remarks set the stage for the launch of the Summit’s five sessions, which were live-streamed [https://www.state.gov/leaders-summit-on-climate/].   

President Biden began Session 1 (“Raising Our Climate Ambition”) by framing enhanced climate action as necessary both to address the crisis and to promote economic opportunity, including the creation of good-paying, union jobs.  He told Summit participants that the United States will halve its greenhouse gas emissions within this decade, noting that countries that take decisive action now will reap the economic benefits of a clean energy future.  To enshrine this commitment, the United States submitted a new “nationally determined contribution” (NDC) under the Paris Agreement setting an economy-wide emissions target of a 50-52% reduction below 2005 levels in 2030. Secretary of State Blinken conveyed a strong sense of urgency in tackling the climate crisis, noting that this is a critical year and a decisive decade to take action.  He noted the U.S. resolve to work with other countries to engage in all avenues of cooperation to “save our planet.” 

Participants noted the need to work rapidly over the course of this decade to accelerate decarbonization efforts and are taking a range of actions to that end. Announcements during this Session included, among others:

  • Japan will cut emissions 46-50% below 2013 levels by 2030, with strong efforts toward achieving a 50% reduction, a significant acceleration from its existing 26% reduction goal.
  • Canada will strengthen its NDC to a 40-45% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030, a significant increase over its previous target to reduce emissions 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.
  • India reiterated its target of 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030 and announced the launch of the “U.S.-India 2030 Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership” to mobilize finance and speed clean energy innovation and deployment this decade.
  • Argentina will strengthen its NDC, deploy more renewables, reduce methane emissions, and end illegal deforestation.
  • The United Kingdom will embed in law a 78% GHG reduction below 1990 levels by 2035.
  • The European Union is putting into law a target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and a net zero target by 2050.
  • The Republic of Korea, which will host the 2021 P4G Seoul Summit in May, will terminate public overseas coal finance and strengthen its NDC this year to be consistent with its 2050 net zero goal.
  • China indicated that it will join the Kigali Amendment, strengthen the control of non-CO2 greenhouse gases, strictly control coal-fired power generation projects, and phase down coal consumption.   
  • Brazil committed to achieve net zero by 2050, end illegal deforestation by 2030, and double funding for deforestation enforcement.
  • South Africa announced that it intends to strengthen its NDC and shift its intended emissions peak year ten years earlier to 2025.
  • Russia noted the importance of carbon capture and storage from all sources, as well as atmospheric carbon removals. It also highlighted the importance of methane and called for international collaboration to address this powerful greenhouse gas.

Session 2 (“Investing in Climate Solutions”) addressed the urgent need to scale up climate finance, including both efforts to increase public finance for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries and efforts to catalyze trillions of dollars of private investment to support the transition to net zero emissions no later than 2050.  President Biden stressed the importance of developed countries meeting the collective goal of mobilizing $100 billion per year in public and private finance to support developing countries.  He also announced that the Administration intends to seek funding to double, by 2024, annual U.S. public climate finance to developing countries, compared to the average level of the second half of the Obama-Biden Administration (FY 2013-2016). This would include tripling public finance for adaptation by 2024. President Biden also called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies and announced that his Administration will undertake a series of steps to promote the measurement, disclosure, and mitigation of material climate risks to the financial system.

Treasury Secretary Yellen highlighted the role of multilateral development banks in supporting the transition. She also said that the Treasury Department will use all its tools and expertise to help support climate action. Special Envoy Kerry moderated a discussion among leaders from government, international organizations, and multilateral and private financial institutions. These leaders noted the importance of concessional finance to leverage much larger sums of private capital, as well as to provide finance to technologies, activities, and geographies where private capital is not flowing.  They noted the urgent need to increase finance for adaptation and resilience in developing countries.  The participants also recognized the need for governments to embrace key policies, including meaningful carbon pricing, enhanced disclosure of climate-related risks, and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies. Several of the private financial institutions expressed their support for coalitions such as the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero and the Net Zero Banking Alliance.  They also referred to recent commitments by U.S. banks to invest $4.16 trillion in climate solutions over the next ten years.

Session 3 elevated four specific topics for more focused consideration by government officials and, in some cases, a broader range of stakeholders. 

  • The discussion on climate action at all levels, hosted by U.S. EPA Administrator Regan and including participation from a wide range of governors, mayors, and indigenous leaders from around the world, illustrated the importance of marshalling a multi-level “all-of-society” approach to climate action.  The Session showcased States, cities, and indigenous groups that are committed to an equitable vision for advancing bold climate ambition and building resilience on the ground.  Participants discussed the critical importance of building just and inclusive societies and economies as they accelerate efforts to transform their communities in line with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Participants discussed not only the importance of leadership at all levels of society and government, but also the importance of collaboration between national and subnational governments to catalyze additional ambition.
  • The discussion on adaptation and resilience, hosted by Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack and Secretary of Homeland Security Mayorkas, focused on innovative ways in which countries from a wide variety of regions are responding to climate change in the areas of water and coastal management, food security, and human impacts. On the theme of coastal and water management, panelists offered up innovative solutions to prepare for water-related climate challenges, such as locally-owned disaster insurance instruments, relocation, and the use of green and blue bonds to finance nature-based solutions. Focusing on food security and climate, participants highlighted the need for better technology to address a changing agricultural landscape as well as the importance of supporting small-scale farmers. On human health and security, the discussion centered on scaling up locally-led solutions to climate vulnerability, emphasizing that economic opportunities are key to keeping communities healthy and stable. The session emphasized that adaptation and mitigation go hand in hand. 
  • The discussion on nature-based solutions, hosted by Interior Secretary Haaland, addressed how achieving net zero by 2050 is not possible without natural climate solutions, such as stopping deforestation and the loss of wetlands and restoring marine and terrestrial ecosystems.  She announced U.S. support of a proposal to protect the Southern Ocean through the three marine protected area proposals under the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). All participants highlighted their support for protecting and conserving land and marine areas to sequester carbon and build climate resilience, and several made announcements.  Seychelles is dedicating a chapter of its enhanced NDC to ocean-based solutions and is committing to protect at least 50% of its seagrass and mangrove ecosystems by 2025 and 100% by 2030, with support. Canada, for its part, is committing $4 billion in its new federal budget for land and ocean protection. In addition, Costa Rica underlined its co-leadership of the High-Ambition Coalition for Nature and People and the intention to have 30% of its ocean under protection by 2022; Peru highlighted that more than a fifth of its NDC measures are associated with nature-based solutions; Indonesia discussed its Presidential decree to permanently freeze new license for logging and peatland utilization, as well as its mangrove rehabilitation program; and Gabon noted that its intact and logged forests absorb four times more CO2 annually than its total emissions across all sectors.  Representatives of the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities and of the Kharia Tribe of India highlighted the need to recognize the contributions and traditional knowledge of local and indigenous communities in ecosystem protection.  
  • The discussion on climate security was hosted by Defense Secretary Austin.  His remarks were followed by remarks from both Director of National Intelligence Haines and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Thomas-Greenfield, who then moderated a panel discussion.  Speakers included NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg, defense officials from Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Spain, and the UK, as well as the Philippines’ finance minister.  A common theme throughout the discussion was how climate impacts exacerbate security concerns and, as a result, affect military capabilities, heighten geopolitical competition, undermine stability, and provoke regional conflicts.  Participants further emphasized that their nations and regions are vulnerable to extreme weather events, including sea level rise, cyclones, typhoons, drought, and increasing temperatures.  All of these intensify underlying political, social, and economic conditions, which in turn can lead to food insecurity and water scarcity, violent extremism, and mass population movement, with disproportionate effects on vulnerable populations, especially women.  Defense officials noted that their ministries are increasingly called upon to respond to disasters, which taxes their resources, thus elevating the need for enhanced disaster preparedness and response.  In looking at their own operations and readiness, they showcased current efforts to decrease their militaries’ emissions, emphasizing how incorporating climate considerations into their operational planning can increase the agility of their forces.  Additionally, they described the benefits of collaboration between defense ministries on shared climate risks. Participants highlighted the NATO climate security action plan and called on countries to incorporate climate considerations more broadly into multilateral fora, including UN peacekeeping missions.  Perhaps most noteworthy, this was the first-ever U.S. Secretary of Defense convening of Secretaries of Defense focused on climate change.  

Session 4 (“Unleashing Climate Innovation”) explored the critical innovations needed to speed net-zero transitions around the world and highlighted the efforts of governments, the private sector, and civil society in bringing new and improved technologies to market. Energy Secretary Granholm and Commerce Secretary Raimondo emphasized the economic rewards from investing in innovation as multi-trillion dollar markets for clean technologies emerge in the coming decades and announced reinvigorated U.S. international leadership on innovation. The discussion underscored the urgent need for innovation: 45% of the emissions reductions needed for a swift net-zero transition must come from technologies that are not commercially available, according to the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, and Bill Gates urged investment to drive down “green premium” prices of most zero-carbon technologies compared with fossil fuel alternatives. Several leading countries — Denmark, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Kenya, Norway, and Singapore — described their approaches to investing in mitigation and adaptation technologies. These included clean fuels such as hydrogen, renewables such as offshore wind and geothermal energy, energy storage, clean desalination, carbon capture, advanced mobility, sustainable urban design, and monitoring technologies to verify emissions and stop deforestation. Leaders from the private sector, including from GE Renewables, Vattenfall, and X, as well as from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, focused on training the diverse innovators of the future and investing in technologies for digitalized, electrified, decarbonized, and resilient energy systems. Special Envoy Kerry closed by emphasizing that raising our innovation ambition enables us to raise the world’s climate ambition. 

Several speakers made announcements during this Session: Denmark announced a technology mission under Mission Innovation to decarbonize the global shipping sector, in collaboration with the United States, and that it will build the world’s first energy islands to produce clean fuels and supply power to Europe. The United Arab Emirates launched the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate in partnership with the United States, Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Singapore, and Uruguay. Bill Gates launched the Breakthrough Energy Catalyst to drive public, private, and philanthropic capital to scale up critical emerging technologies. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announced the Institute for Energy, the Built Environment, and Smart Systems to decarbonize urban systems. GE Renewable Energy announced that the GE Foundation is committing up to $100 million to increase the diversity of the next generation of engineers. And X, Alphabet’s Moonshot Factory, announced a Moonshot for the electric grid. 

President Biden began Session 5 (“The Economic Opportunities of Climate Action”) by recognizing the opportunity that ambitious climate action presents to countries around the world to create good, high quality jobs. He noted that countries that prioritize policies that promote renewable energy deployment, electric vehicle manufacturing, methane abatement, and building retrofits, among other actions, would likely reap the rewards of job growth and economic prosperity in the years ahead. The U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Tai, Transportation Secretary Buttigieg, and National Climate Advisor McCarthy underscored that the climate agenda could be a race to the top for countries that are pursuing the most ambitious methods to tackle the crisis, noting the American Jobs Plan that President Biden has proposed. 

Participants echoed this vision and elaborated their own projects and programs to maximize the economic benefits of their climate actions. Leaders of countries recognized that the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity for countries to build back better and invest in the industries of the future. Community, tribal, private sector, and labor leaders also weighed in on the opportunities that decarbonization provided. Panelists noted that climate action presents economic opportunities to all parts of society, from energy workers to vehicle manufacturers, from large businesses to small. In particular, there was general alignment among both country representatives and other participants that governments should promote equitable opportunities for workers and that labor unions can play a key role in promoting high quality employment opportunities for people around the world. To that end, Poland announced that they had just concluded negotiations with coal mine labor unions to ensure a just transition of workers as part of their coal-fired power phasedown. In response to the discussion, President Biden closed by emphasizing that climate action might represent the largest economic opportunity of this century and urging leaders to stay focused.
 
In between the five Sessions, several other speakers provided important perspectives. Youth speaker Xiye Bastida, declaring that climate justice is social justice, underlined that youth need to be a part of decision-making processes and called for a stop to fossil fuel subsidies and extraction. Current and future Conference of Parties Presidents Minister Carolina Schmidt (Chile) and MP Alok Sharma (UK) discussed the urgency of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Minister Schmidt noted that COP25 included, for the first time, a mandate to address the ocean-climate nexus, while MP Sharma noted that we must put the world on a path to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 through long-term targets and aligned NDCs, as well as immediate action, such as phasing out coal. Pope Francis, who has been a climate leader for many years, underlined the need to “care for nature so that nature may care for us.” Chair Mallory of the White House Council on Environmental Quality highlighted the Biden Administration’s commitment to environmental justice and introduced Peggy Shepard, Co-Chair of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council; she underlined the need to build back better to lift up the communities struggling with climate impacts and environmental injustice.  Michael Bloomberg, UN Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions, noted the key role of cities and businesses in tackling the climate crisis.

Alongside the Summit, Special Envoy Kerry hosted two Ministerial Roundtables to provide a broader group of countries an opportunity to contribute to the discussions.  He heard from representatives of more than 60 countries from all over the world, reflecting a wide range of regions, geographic features, and national circumstances, and summarized their input for leaders on the second day of the Summit.  Many Roundtable participants expressed concern about the inadequacy of global climate action to date and/or shared the unprecedented climate impacts they are experiencing. At the same time, participants enthusiastically reported on the significant, exciting efforts they are undertaking to confront the climate crisis, even while facing the global pandemic. Beyond many commitments to net zero emissions, enhanced NDCs, and innovative adaptation efforts, participants included a carbon-negative country, countries that have successfully decoupled economic growth from carbon emissions, leaders in carbon storage, countries with extensive forest cover, issuers of green bonds, and countries focusing on gender-responsive approaches and the participation of indigenous communities.  It was notable that many of those passionately embracing climate solutions contribute far less than 1% of global emissions.  The Roundtables contributed to the Summit’s sense of urgency as countries rally around increased ambition on the road to Glasgow.

Roundtable participants represented:  Afghanistan, Andorra, Angola, Armenia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Federated States of Micronesia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, North Macedonia, Oman, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Republic of Congo, Romania, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, The Bahamas, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, and Zambia. 

A list of new climate-related initiatives announced by the United States at or around the Summit can be found in this Fact Sheet [https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/04/23/fact-sheet-president-bidens-leaders-summit-on-climate/].  

Biden Signs Executive Orders to Tackle Climate Change, Create Jobs: ‘Climate change will be at the center of our national security and foreign policy’

Solar array on a farm in Finger Lakes, New York (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

‘It’s about jobs — good-paying union jobs.  It’s about workers building our economy back better than before.  It’s a whole-of-government approach to put climate change at the center of our domestic, national security, and foreign policy.  It’s advancing conservation; revitalizing communities and cities and on the farmlands; and securing environmental justice.’

President Joe Biden equated Climate Day with Jobs Day at the White House because he knows that confronting this existential crisis is also about jobs that will build a sustainable future. Think about it: workers populated Pennsylvania and West Virginia when technology was invented to turn coal into fuel; workers flooded Texas and Oklahoma when oil was discovered. Now we need new sources of energy to replace these archaic, destructive technologies and will redeploy those workers, re-purpose those sites and develop new industries. Long Island will lead a new off-shore wind industry, other places – including farmers and ranchers – will turn their land into a new source of wealth with solar panels and windmills.

Today, President Biden signed executive actions to treat the need to tackle climate change as the national security threat it is, while at the same time countering the Republican claim of a zero-sum game that climate action will cost jobs rather than create millions of jobs. And after Republican presidents and administrations did all they could to erase “climate change” from mission statements, agencies and policies, Biden signed an executive order restoring scientific integrity.

Here are President Biden’s remarks, highlighted: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Today is “Climate Day” at the White House which means that today is “Jobs Day” at the White House.  We’re talking about American innovation, American products, American labor.  And we’re talking about the health of our families and cleaner water, cleaner air, and cleaner communities.  We’re talking about national security and America leading the world in a clean energy future.

It’s a future of enormous hope and opportunity.  It’s about coming to the moment to deal with this maximum threat that we — that’s now facing us — climate change — with a greater sense of urgency.  In my view, we’ve already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis and we can’t wait any longer.  We see it with our own eyes, we feel it, we know it in our bones, and it’s time to act. 

And I might note, parenthetically: If you notice, the attitude of the American people toward greater impetus on focusing on climate change and doing something about it has increased across the board — Democrat, Republican, independent. 

That’s why I’m signing today an executive order to supercharge our administration ambitious plan to confront the existential threat of climate change.  And it is an existential threat. 

Last year, wildfires burned more than 5,000 acres in the West — as no one knows better than the Vice President, a former Senator from California — an area roughly the size of the entire state of New Jersey.  More intense and powerful hurricanes and tropical storms pummeled states across the Gulf Coast and along the East Coast — I can testify to that, from Delaware.  Historic floods, severe droughts have ravaged the Midwest.  More Americans see and feel the devastation in big cities, small towns, coastlines, and in farmlands, in red states and blue states.  And the Defense Department reported that climate change is a direct threat to more than two thirds of the military’s operational critical installations.  Two thirds.  And so this could — we could — this could well be on the conservative side. 

Record heat caussd by climate change contributed to record wildfires in California (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And many climate and health calamities are colliding all at once.  It’s not just the pandemic that keeps people inside; it’s poor air quality.  Multiple studies have shown that air pollution is associated with an increased risk of death from COVID-19.  And just like we need a unified national response to COVID-19, we desperately need a unified national response to the climate crisis because there is a climate crisis. 

We must lead global response because neither challenge can be met, as Secretary Kerry has pointed out many times, by the United States alone.  We know what to do, we’ve just got to do it. 

When we think of climate change, we think of it — this is a case where conscious and convenience cross paths, where dealing with this existential threat to the planet and increasing our economic growth and prosperity are one in the same.  When I think of climate change, I think of — and the answers to it — I think of jobs. 

A key plank of our Build Back Better Recovery Plan is building a modern, resilient climate infrastructure and clean energy future that will create millions of good-paying union jobs — not 7, 8, 10, 12 dollars an hour, but prevailing wage and benefits. 

You know, we can put millions of Americans to work modernizing our water systems, transportation, our energy infrastructure to withstand the impacts of extreme climate.  We’ve already reached a point where we’re going to have to live with what it is now.  That’s going to require a lot of work all by itself, without it getting any worse. 

When we think of renewable energy, we see American manufacturing, American workers racing to lead the global market.  We see farmers making American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions and gaining new sources of income in the process.

And I want to parenthetically thank the Secretary of Agriculture for helping to put together that program during the campaign. 

We see small business and master electricians designing, installing, and innovating energy-conserving technologies and building homes and buildings.  And we’re going to reduce electric consumption and save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in energy costs in the process.

And when the previous administration reversed the Obama-Biden vehicle standard and picked Big Oil companies over American workers, the Biden-Harris administration will not only bring those standards back, we’ll set new, ambitious ones that our workers are ready to meet.

We see these workers building new buildings, installing 500,000 new electric vehicle charging stations across the country as we modernize our highway systems to adapt to the changes that have already taken place.  We see American consumers switching to electric vehicles through rebates and incentives, and the residents of our cities and towns breathing cleaner air, and fewer kids living with asthma and dying from it.

And not only that, the federal government owns and maintains an enormous fleet of vehicles, as you all know.  With today’s executive order, combined with the Buy American executive order I signed on Monday, we’re going to harness the purchasing power of the federal government to buy clean, zero-emission vehicles that are made and sourced by union workers right here in America.

With everything I just mentioned, this will mean one million new jobs in the American automobile industry.  One million.  And we’ll do another thing: We’ll take steps towards my goal of achieving 100 percent carbon-pollution-free electric sector by 2035Transforming the American electric sector to produce power without carbon pollution will be a tremendous spur to job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st century, not to mention the benefits to our health and to our environment. 

Already, 84 percent of all new electric capacity planned to come onto the electric grid this is year is clean energy.  Clean energy.  Why?  Because it’s affordable; because it’s clean; because, in many cases, it’s cheaper.  And it’s the way we’re keeping up — they’re keeping up.  We’re going to need scientists, the national labs, land-grant universities, historical black colleges and universities to innovate the technologies needed to generate, store, and transmit clean electric — clean electricity across distances, and battery technology, and a whole range of other things.

We need engineers to design them and workers to manufacture them.  We need iron workers and welders to install them.  Technologies they invent, design, and build will ultimately become cheaper than any other kind of energy, helping us dramatically expand our economy and create more jobs with a cleaner, cleaner environment.  And we’ll become the world’s largest exporter of those technologies, creating even more jobs. 

Homes have to be rebuilt after hurricanes and superstorms like Sandy which decimated the coastal community of Breezy Point, Long Island (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

You know, we are also — we’re going to build 1.5 million new energy-efficient homes and public housing units that are going to benefit communities three times over: one, by alleviating the affordable housing crisis; two, by increasing energy efficiency; and, three, by reducing the racial wealth gap linked to home ownership.

We’re also going to create more than a quarter million jobs to do things like plug the millions of abandoned oil and gas wells that pose an ongoing threat to the health and safety of our communities.  They’re abandoned wells that are open now, and we’re going to put people to work.  They’re not going to lose jobs in these areas; they’re going to create jobs.  They’re going to get prevailing wage to cap those over a million wells.  These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams.  These are concrete, actionable solutions, and we know how to do this.

The Obama-Biden administration rescued the auto industry and helped them retool.  We need solar energy cost-competitive with traditional energy, weatherizing more — we made them cost-competitive, weatherizing more than a million homes.

The Recovery Act of our administration — the Democratic administration –made record clean energy investments: $90 billion.  The President asked me to make sure how that money was spent, on everything from smart grid systems to clean energy manufacturing.

Now, the Biden-Harris administration is going to do it again and go beyond.  The executive order I’ll be signing establishes a White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy.  And it’ll be led by one of America’s most distinguished climate leaders, former EPA Director Gina McCarthy.  As the head of the new office and my National Climate Advisor, Gina will chair a National Climate Task Force, made up of many members of our Cabinet, to deliver a whole-of-government approach to the climate crisis.

This is not time for small measures; we need to be bold.  So, let me be clear: That includes helping revitalize the economies of coal, oil, and gas, and power plant communities.  We have to start by creating new, good-paying jobs, capping those abandoned wells, reclaiming mines, turning old brownfield sites into new hubs of economic growth, creating new, good-paying jobs in those communities where those workers live because they helped build this country.

Shuttered steel mill, Bethlehem, PA, built to be near coal (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We’re never going to forget the men and women who dug the coal and built the nation.  We’re going to do right by them and make sure they have opportunities to keep building the nation and their own communities and getting paid well for it.

While the whole-of-government approach is necessary, though, it’s not sufficient.  We’re going to work with mayors and governors and tribal leaders and business leaders who are stepping up, and the young people organizing and leading the way.  My message to those young people is: You have the full capacity and power of the federal government.  Your government is going to work with you. 

Now, today’s executive order also directs the Secretary of the Interior to stop issuing new oil and gas leases on public lands and offshore waters, wherever possible.  We’re going to review and reset the oil and gas leasing program…We’re going to start to properly manage lands and waterways in ways that allow us to protect, preserve them — the full value that they provide for us for future generations. 

Let me be clear, and I know this always comes up: We’re not going to ban fracking.  We’ll protect jobs and grow jobs, including through stronger standards, like controls from methane leaks and union workers in — willing to install the changes. 

Unlike previous administrations, I don’t think the federal government should give handouts to big oil to the tune of $40 billion in fossil fuel subsidies.  And I’m going to be going to the Congress asking them to eliminate those subsidies.

Wind turbines in California (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We’re going to take money and invest it in clean energy jobs in Americamillions of jobs in wind, solar, and carbon capture.  In fact, today’s actions are going to help us increase renewable energy production from offshore wind and meet our obligation to be good stewards of our public lands. 

It establishes a new, modern-day Civilian Climate Corps — that I called for when I was campaigning — to heal our public lands and make us less vulnerable to wildfires and floods.

Look, this executive order I’m signing today also makes it official that climate change will be at the center of our national security and foreign policy. 

As Secretary Kerry — as our Special Presidential Envoy for Climate — with him, the world knows how serious I am about one of America’s — by appointing one of America’s most distinguished statesmen and one of my closest friends, speaking for America on one of the most pressing threats of our time.  John was instrumental in negotiating the Paris Climate Agreement that we started to — that we rejoined — this administration rejoined on day one, as I promised.

And today’s executive order will help strengthen that commitment by working with other nations to support the most vulnerable to the impact of climate change and to increase our collective resilience.  That includes a summit of world leaders that I’ll convene to address this climate crisis on Earth Day, this year.

In order to establish a new effort to integrate the security implications of climate change as part of our national security and risk assessment and analysis will also be included.

With this executive order, environmental justice will be at the center of all we do addressing the disproportionate health and environmental and economic impacts on communities of color — so-called “fenceline communities” — especially those communities — brown, black, Native American, poor whites.  It’s the hard-hit areas like Cancer Alley in Louisiana, or the Route 9 corridor in the state of Delaware. 

That’s why we’re going to work to make sure that they receive 40 percent of the benefits of key federal investments in clean energy, clean water, and wastewater infrastructureLifting up these communities makes us all stronger as a nation and increases the health of everybody.

Finally, as with our fight against COVID-19, we will listen to the science and protect the integrity of our federal response to the climate crisis.

Earlier this month, I nominated Dr. Eric Lander, a brilliant scientist who is here today, to be the Director of the Office of Science and Technology.  I also nominated another brilliant scientist, Dr. Frances Arnold and Dr. Maria Zuber, to co-chair the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology — so-called “PCAST” — that President Eisenhower started six weeks after the launch of Sputnik.

It’s a team of America’s top scientists charged with asking the most American of questions: “What next?  What’s the next big breakthrough?”  And then helping us make the impossible possible. 

Today, I’m signing a presidential memorandum making it clear that we will protect our world-class scientists from political interference and ensure they can think, research, and speak freely and directly to me, the Vice President, and the American people.

To summarize, this executive order — it’s about jobs — good-paying union jobs.  It’s about workers building our economy back better than before.  It’s a whole-of-government approach to put climate change at the center of our domestic, national security, and foreign policy.  It’s advancing conservation; revitalizing communities and cities and in the fa– on the farmlands; and securing environmental justice.

Our plans are ambitious, but we are America.  We’re bold.  We are unwavering in the pursuit of jobs and innovation, science and discovery.  We can do this, we must do this, and we will do this.

See:  FACT SHEET: BIDEN EXECUTIVE ACTIONS TO TACKLE CLIMATE CRISIS, CREATE JOBS, RESTORE SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY ACROSS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

FACT SHEET: Biden Executive Actions to Tackle Climate Crisis, Create Jobs, Restore Scientific Integrity Across Federal Government

Windfarm in California. President Biden sees the transformation from carbon to renewable energy as not just essential for national security, but for economic prosperity and jobs (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Biden-Harris Administration Commits on Climate Change – Creating Jobs, Building Infrastructure, and Delivering Environmental Justice

President Biden took executive action to tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad while creating good-paying union jobs and equitable clean energy future, building modern and sustainable infrastructure, restoring scientific integrity and evidence-based policymaking across the federal government, and re-establishing the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

These Executive Orders follow through on President Biden’s promise to take aggressive action to tackle climate change and build on the executive actions that the President took on his first day in office, including rejoining the Paris Agreement and immediate review of harmful rollbacks of standards that protect our air, water, and communities.

President Biden set ambitious goals that will ensure America and the world can meet the urgent demands of the climate crisis, while empowering American workers and businesses to lead a clean energy revolution that achieves a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and puts the United States on an irreversible path to a net-zero economy by 2050. Today’s actions advance those goals and ensure that we are tapping into the talent, grit, and innovation of American workers, revitalizing the U.S. energy sector, conserving our natural resources and leveraging them to help drive our nation toward a clean energy future, creating well-paying jobs with the opportunity to join a union, and delivering justice for communities who have been subjected to environmental harm.

President Biden also signed an important Presidential Memorandum on scientific integrity to send a clear message that the Biden-Harris Administration will protect scientists from political interference and ensure they can think, research, and speak freely to provide valuable information and insights to the American people. Additionally, and in line with the scientific-integrity memorandum’s charge to reestablish scientific advisory committees, President Biden signed an Executive Order re-establishing the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

TACKLING THE CLIMATE CRISIS AT HOME AND ABROAD EXECUTIVE ORDER

Today’s Executive Order takes bold steps to combat the climate crisis both at home and throughout the world. In signing this Executive Order, President Biden has directed his Administration to:

Center the Climate Crisis in U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security Considerations

The order clearly establishes climate considerations as an essential element of U.S. foreign policy and national security. 

The order affirms that, in implementing – and building on – the Paris Agreement’s objectives, the United States will exercise its leadership to promote a significant increase in global ambition. It makes clear that both significant short-term global emission reductions and net zero global emissions by mid-century – or before – are required to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory. 

The order reaffirms that the President will host a Leaders’ Climate Summit on Earth Day, April 22, 2021; that the United States will reconvene the Major Economies Forum; that, to underscore the administration’s commitment to elevating climate in U.S. foreign policy, the President has created a new position, the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, which will have a seat on the National Security Council, and that it will be a U.S. priority to press for enhanced climate ambition and integration of climate considerations across a wide range of international fora.

The order also kicks off the process of developing the United States’ “nationally determined contribution” – our emission reduction target – under the Paris Agreement, as well as a climate finance plan.

Among numerous other steps aimed at prioritizing climate in U.S. foreign policy and national security, the order directs the Director of National Intelligence to prepare a National Intelligence Estimate on the security implications of climate change, the State Department to prepare a transmittal package to the Senate for the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, and all agencies to develop strategies for integrating climate considerations into their international work.

Take a Whole-of-Government Approach to the Climate Crisis

The order formally establishes the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy – led by the first-ever National Climate Advisor and Deputy National Climate Advisor – creating a central office in the White House that is charged with coordinating and implementing the President’s domestic climate agenda.

The order establishes the National Climate Task Force, assembling leaders from across 21 federal agencies and departments to enable a whole-of-government approach to combatting the climate crisis.

Leverage the Federal Government’s Footprint and Buying Power to Lead by Example

Consistent with the goals of the President’s Build Back Better jobs and economic recovery plan, of which his clean energy jobs plan is a central pillar, the order directs the federal agencies to procure carbon pollution-free electricity and clean, zero-emission vehicles to create good-paying, union jobs and stimulate clean energy industries.

In addition, the order requires those purchases be Made in America, following President Biden’s Buy American executive order. The order also directs agencies to apply and strictly enforce the prevailing wage and benefit guidelines of the Davis Bacon and other acts and encourage Project Labor Agreements. These actions reaffirm that agencies should work to ensure that any jobs created with funds to address the climate crisis are good jobs with a choice to join a union.

The order directs each federal agency to develop a plan to increase the resilience of its facilities and operations to the impacts of climate change and directs relevant agencies to report on ways to expand and improve climate forecast capabilities – helping facilitate public access to climate related information and assisting governments, communities, and businesses in preparing for and adapting to the impacts of climate change.

The order directs the Secretary of the Interior to pause on entering into new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or offshore waters to the extent possible, launch a rigorous review of all existing leasing and permitting practices related to fossil fuel development on public lands and waters, and identify steps that can be taken to double renewable energy production from offshore wind by 2030. The order does not restrict energy activities on lands that the United States holds in trust for Tribes. The Secretary of the Interior will continue to consult with Tribes regarding the development and management of renewable and conventional energy resources, in conformance with the U.S. government’s trust responsibilities.

The order directs federal agencies to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies as consistent with applicable law and identify new opportunities to spur innovation, commercialization, and deployment of clean energy technologies and infrastructure. 

Rebuild Our Infrastructure for a Sustainable Economy

The order catalyzes the creation of jobs in construction, manufacturing, engineering and the skilled-trades by directing steps to ensure that every federal infrastructure investment reduces climate pollution and that steps are taken to accelerate clean energy and transmission projects under federal siting and permitting processes in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Advance Conservation, Agriculture, and Reforestation

The order commits to the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and oceans by 2030 and launches a process for stakeholder engagement from agricultural and forest landowners, fishermen, Tribes, States, Territories, local officials, and others to identify strategies that will result in broad participation. 

The order also calls for the establishment of a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative to put a new generation of Americans to work conserving and restoring public lands and waters, increasing reforestation, increasing carbon sequestration in the agricultural sector, protecting biodiversity, improving access to recreation, and addressing the changing climate.

The order directs the Secretary of Agriculture to collect input from farmers, ranchers, and other stakeholders on how to use federal programs to encourage adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices that produce verifiable carbon reductions and sequestrations and create new sources of income and jobs for rural Americans.

Revitalize Energy Communities

The order establishes an Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization, to be co-chaired by the National Climate Advisor and the Director of the National Economic Council, and directs federal agencies to coordinate investments and other efforts to assist coal, oil and natural gas, and power plant communities. 

The order tasks the new Interagency Working Group to advance projects that reduce emissions of toxic substances and greenhouse gases from existing and abandoned infrastructure and that prevent environmental damage that harms communities and poses a risk to public health and safety – such as projects to reduce methane emissions, oil and brine leaks, and other environmental harms from tens of thousands of former mining and well sites.

In addition, the new Interagency Working Group is also directed to explore efforts to turn properties idled in these communities, like brownfields, into new hubs for the growth of our economy.

Secure Environmental Justice and Spur Economic Opportunity

The order formalizes President Biden’s commitment to make environmental justice a part of the mission of every agency by directing federal agencies to develop programs, policies, and activities to address the disproportionate health, environmental, economic, and climate impacts on disadvantaged communities.

The order establishes a White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council and a White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council to prioritize environmental justice and ensure a whole-of-government approach to addressing current and historical environmental injustices, including strengthening environmental justice monitoring and enforcement through new or strengthened offices at the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Justice, and Department of Health and Human Services.  The new bodies are also tasked with advising on ways to update Executive Order 12898 of February 11, 1994.

The order creates a government-wide Justice40 Initiative with the goal of delivering 40 percent of the overall benefits of relevant federal investments to disadvantaged communities and tracks performance toward that goal through the establishment of an Environmental Justice Scorecard.

The order initiates the development of a Climate and Environmental Justice Screening Tool, building off EPA’s EJSCREEN, to identify disadvantaged communities, support the Justice40 Initiative, and inform equitable decision making across the federal government

SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY PRESIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM

The Presidential Memorandum on Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking directs agencies to make evidence-based decisions guided by the best available science and data. Scientific and technological information, data, and evidence are central to the development and iterative improvement of sound policies, and to the delivery of effective and equitable programs. Improper political interference in the scientific process, with the work of scientists, and in the communication of scientific facts undermines the welfare of the nation, contributes to systemic inequities and injustices, and violates the public trust.

The memorandum charges the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) with the responsibility for ensuring scientific integrity across federal agencies. The OSTP Director is directed to review the effectiveness of agency scientific-integrity policies and assess agency scientific-integrity policies and practices going forward.

In addition, agencies that oversee, direct, or fund research are tasked with designating a senior agency employee as Chief Science Officer to ensure agency research programs are scientifically and technologically well founded and conducted with integrity. Because science, facts, and evidence are vital to addressing policy and programmatic issues across the Federal Government, all agencies – not just those that fund, conduct, or oversee scientific research –must designate a senior career employee as the agency’s Scientific Integrity Official to oversee implementation and iterative improvement of scientific-integrity policies and processes.

EXECUTIVE ORDER ESTABLISHING THE PRESIDENT’S COUNCIL OF ADVISORS ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Leaders across the Biden-Harris Administration, including the President himself and his senior advisors in the Executive Office of the President, will seek input, advice, and the best-available science, data, and scientific and technological information from scientists, engineers, and other experts in science, technology, and innovation.

To that end, and in alignment with the scientific-integrity memorandum’s charge to reestablish scientific and technological advisory committees, this order re-establishes the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). The PCAST– co-chaired by the President’s Science Advisor – will advise the President on policy that affects science, technology, and innovation. The Council will also advise the President on scientific and technical information that is needed to inform public policy relating to the economy, worker empowerment, education, energy, environment, public health, national and homeland security, racial equity, and other topics.

Democratic Race for 2020: Warren Plan to Stop Wall Street from Financing the Climate Crisis

Senator Elizabeth Warren, running for president, has just released a plan to stop Wall Street from financing the climate crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 

Capitalists are actually much more responsive to the public will than lawmakers – which may not be saying much. But as the United Nations Climate Summit demonstrated, corporations and the financial institutions that fund them are becoming more conscious of climate change. Even former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has become an advocate for climate action. More investors are factoring in the cost of climate disasters as well as the change to agriculture, human productivity and health, availability of resources including potable water. Still, corporations that are wedded to the status quo and an economy and society oriented around fossil fuels and intense carbon emissions, that don’t respect air and water quality, need a nudge. Senator Elizabeth Warren, running for president, has just released a plan to stop Wall Street from financing the climate crisis.

Climate change poses a systemic risk to the health and stability of our financial system,” Senator Warren stated. “And yet, Wall Street is refusing to listen, let alone take real action. My plan to Stop Wall Street From Financing the Climate Crisis is just the first step to ensuring our financial system is ensured against the worst effects of climate change and Wall Street stops financing the climate crisis.

This is from the Warren campaign:

Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren released her plan to stop Wall Street from financing the climate crisis. Elizabeth’s plan will limit and manage the risk that climate change poses to our economy by reining in Wall Street and ensuring our banks, asset managers, and insurers pay the true cost of climate change, instead of passing it on to millions of Americans. 
 
Elizabeth rang the alarm in the lead up to the 2008 financial crisis. She is sounding the alarm on Wall Street once again as we face the existential threat of our time: climate change.  It’s clear that our entire financial system is in major danger from the climate crisis. And yet, neither the largest U.S. financial institutions, nor the public watchdogs that are supposed to hold them accountable, have taken adequate steps to address Wall Street’s role in exacerbating the crisis. 

As President, Elizabeth Warren will:

Direct the Federal Reserve to invoke its authority under Section 165 of Dodd-Frank to impose “enhanced prudential standards” –– things like higher capital standards, or tougher stress testing –– on large financial institutions based on their exposure to climate-related risks.
 

Treat climate change as the systemic risk to our financial system that it is and use existing financial regulations to push the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) to carefully examine the risks posed by climate change and use its authority to designate financial institutions as “systemically important” if appropriate.
 

Go beyond her Climate Risk Disclosure Plan by strengthening SEC rules that govern the climate change expertise in the composition of boards of directors, as well as in shareholder representation and disclosure in proxy voting. 
 

Elizabeth will also require U.S. banks to report annually how much fossil fuel equity and debt is created, and/or held as assets, with respect to all fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure.
 

Fight for pensions by pushing the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Labor –– the two government bodies charged with regulating pensions –– to declare carbon-intensive investments not consistent with a fund manager’s fiduciary duty to its clients.
 

Hold insurance companies accountable for the risk they’re spreading through the financial system — and through vulnerable communities — by working with Congress to make large insurance companies doing business in the U.S. disclose the size of the premiums they’re deriving from coal, oil and gas projects, associated infrastructure, and companies. 
 

Elizabeth will also investigate insurers who talk out of both sides of their mouth when they deny coverage to policyholders under the guise of too much climate risk, while simultaneously insuring fossil fuel projects.
 

Transition us away from Donald Trump’s climate-denying administration at a speed unmatched by any transition in modern history. As part of that transition, she will announce her choices for Cabinet, including a Treasury Secretary who understands the financial risks of the climate crisis, by December 1, 2020. And she will staff all senior and mid-level White House positions, like financial regulators, by Inauguration Day.
 

Work with international allies by:
 

Advocating for the Federal Reserve to join the global coalition of central banks known as the Network on Greening the Financial System
 

Requiring implementation of the Paris Climate accord and the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies as preconditions for any trade agreement. 
 

Dedicating $100 billion to helping other countries purchase and deploy American-made clean energy technology that is manufactured right here at home under the Green Marshall Plan.
 

Ending all American support for international oil and gas projects through the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. 
 

Committing to using America’s voting power in the World Bank and other global financial institutions to cut off investment in fossil fuel projects and to direct that investment into clean energy projects instead.

Read the plan here and below: 
 
Stop Wall Street from Financing the Climate Crisis 
 
I’ve spent most of my career getting to the bottom of what’s happening to working families in America. And when I saw the seeds of the 2008 financial crisis growing, I rang the alarm as loud as I could. But the people with the power to stop the crisis didn’t listen — not enough of them anyway. Not the banks, not Alan Greenspan or other federal regulators, not Congress. And when the financial crisis hit in 2008, working families lost it all while the big banks that broke the economy got a fat taxpayer bailout. 
 
And once again, as we face the existential threat of our time –– climate change –– Wall Street is refusing to listen, let alone take real action. 
 
Climate change threatens our financial system in two ways. First, it poses a physical risk to property as climate-fueled extreme weather events — floods, hurricanes, wildfires — become more and more frequent. Second, it poses transition risks to our economy: investments in the fossil fuel industry may abruptly lose value as we transition to a clean economy, posing risks of financial crisis and destabilization. If we remain on a pathway to 2°C of warming (right now we’re on track for roughly 3°C of warming), the costs to the financial system could reach as much as $69 trillion by 2100. Other estimates put the global economic losses caused by climate change at $23 trillion –– still roughly three or four times the scale of the 2008 crisis.
 
It’s clear that our entire financial system is in major danger from the climate crisis. And yet, neither the largest U.S. financial institutions, nor the public watchdogs that are supposed to hold them accountable, have taken adequate steps to address Wall Street’s role in exacerbating the crisis. In fact, many of the largest banks and asset managers have actually increased their holdings of fossil fuel assets since the Paris Agreement was signed. And in the two years immediately after the Paris Agreement was adopted, the six largest U.S. bank investors in fossil fuels companies loaned, underwrote, or otherwise financed over $700 billion for fossil fuel companies. Wall Street banks are making a quick buck accelerating climate change, all while communities across the country are suffering from the lasting impacts of industrial pollution and the increasingly devastating effects of climate change. 
 
There has been some movement by big financial firms. A recently leaked report from J.P. Morgan — the world’s largest financial backer of fossil fuel companies — stated that the climate crisis could lead to “catastrophic outcomes where human life as we know it is threatened.” Late last year, Goldman Sachs announced that it will spend $750 billion over ten years on sustainable finance projects, restrict financing to all new oil production and exploration in the Arctic, and impose stricter lending requirements for coal companies. And in a letter to investors earlier this year, Blackrock –– the world’s largest asset manager –– announced that it will exit investments with high environmental risk, like thermal coal, and launch new investment products that screen for fossil fuels. While these actions are a small step in the right direction, they are long overdue given the relative impact the financial industry has had on the climate crisis — and they’re not enough to protect us from a climate-fueled financial collapse, either. 
 
We will not defeat the climate crisis if we have to wait for the financial industry to self-regulate or come forward with piecemeal voluntary commitments. Winning a Green New Deal and achieving 100% clean energy for our global economy –– or enacting any of my 13 plans to defeat the climate crisis –– will be near impossible so long as large financial institutions are allowed to freely underwrite investments in dirty fossil fuels. 
 
This ends when I am president. A Warren administration will act decisively and swiftly to manage the risk that climate change poses to our economy by reining in Wall Street and ensuring our banks, asset managers, and insurers pay the true cost of climate change instead of passing it on to millions of Americans. We can make the financial system work for good as we transition to 100% clean energy, but first, we have to change the way Wall Street is currently doing business. 
 
Use existing financial regulations to tackle climate change because it is a systemic risk to our financial system
 
Foreign financial regulators understand that the climate crisis poses serious risks to the financial system. European regulators are warning of a “green swan” event that could trigger a climate change-driven financial crisis. The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, and the Governor of the Banque de France, François Villeroy warned that climate change poses a “catastrophic effect” to the global economy that could lead to “a sudden collapse in asset prices” similar to the to the 2008 financial crisis, and has urged central banks, such as the Federal Reserve Board, to play a much larger role in tackling the crisis. 
 
I am sounding the alarm on Wall Street once again –– just as I did in the lead up to the 2008 financial crash. 
 
The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was our country’s response to the 2008 crisis. It included tools that our federal regulators could use to protect the safety and soundness of our financial system. Regulators should use those tools now to address the systemic risk that climate change poses.
 
Specifically, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) –– a body created by Dodd-Frank to bring together heads of financial regulatory agencies to assess threats across jurisdictions and markets –– should carefully examine the risks posed by climate change and use its authority to designate financial institutions as “systemically important” if appropriate. And the Federal Reserve should invoke its authority under Section 165 of Dodd-Frank to impose “enhanced prudential standards” –– things like higher capital standards and margin requirement, or tougher stress testing –– on large financial institutions based on their climate-related risks.
 
By using the authorities Congress has already given them, federal regulators can mitigate the climate-related risk in our financial system and help accelerate the transition towards a clean energy economy.
 
Increase corporate accountability through the Securities & Exchange Commission
 
Publicly traded companies, including big banks, have an obligation to share important information about their business. But right now, these companies don’t share much about how climate change might affect their business, their customers, and their investors. 
 
That’s a problem in two ways. First, there are a lot of companies that could be badly hurt by the likely environmental effects of climate change, and their financial implications such as stranded assets, and supply-chain risk. We’ve already seen how record storms, flooding, and wildfires can cause billions of dollars in damage. Second, global efforts to combat climate change will have an enormous impact on certain types of companies, particularly those in the energy sector. The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures found that reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and increasingly affordable deployment of clean energy technology could have “significant, near-term financial implications” for Big Oil and fossil fuel companies.
 
My Climate Risk Disclosure plan addresses these problems by requiring companies to publicly disclose both of these types of climate-related risks. It directs the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to issue rules that make every public company disclose detailed information, including the likely effect on the company if climate change continues at its current pace and the likely effect on the company if the world successfully restricts greenhouse gas emissions to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement. My plan also requires the SEC to tailor these disclosure requirements for specific industries so that, for instance, fossil fuel companies will have to make even more detailed disclosures.
 
But disclosure is just the first step. There is more the SEC can do to ensure companies are more accurately accounting for climate risk, which is why a Warren administration will go further by strengthening SEC rules that govern the climate change expertise in the composition of boards of directors, as well as in shareholder representation and disclosure in proxy voting. My administration will also require U.S. banks to report annually how much fossil fuel equity and debt is created, and/or held as assets, with respect to all fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure. And a Warren administration will work with the SEC Office of Credit Ratings to direct credit rating agencies to impose process standards — like climate due diligences — that incorporate the physical and financial risks that climate change presents to securities and other financial assets, as well as to the companies that issue them.
 
Protect Pensions 
 
For the millions of public school teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other state and federal public employees who spend their careers in service to our government, pension funds provide a shot at a decent retirement. Most simply, pensions are deferred wages for our public employees. And yet today, our pension systems are failing our public employees. That’s in part because they are invested in fossil fuels –– leaving all the risk of fossil fuel investments in hard working Americans’ retirement accounts. 
 
One recent analysis found that pension funds would be significantly more successful without risky fossil investments. California’s $238 billion state teachers retirement fund CalSTRS –– which serves nearly a million public school teachers –– would have earned an additional $5.5 billion over ten years without its fossil fuel investments. And Colorado’s state pension fund PERA –– which serves 600,000 current and former teachers, state troopers, corrections officers, and other public employees –– would have earned almost $2 billion more in value. This matters for hard-working pension-holders: investments in fossil fuels over the last 10 years have lost many of California’s public school teachers $5,572 each, and cost many of Colorado’s public employees $2,900 each. And yet, despite calls from environmentalists to divest from fossil fuels, in January of this year CalSTRS rejected divestment, claiming it would have a “lasting negative impact on the health of the fund.” 
 
As president, I will fight for every person’s pension, because every American deserves the right to retire with dignity after spending their career in service of our local, state and federal government. A Warren administration would explicitly state policy preferences for limiting climate risk, beginning with divestment from fossil fuels and prioritizing investments in environmental, social and governance (ESG) options. And I would go further by pushing the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Labor –– the two government bodies charged with regulating pensions –– to declare carbon-intensive investments not consistent with a fund manager’s fiduciary duty to its clients.
 
And, as a matter of justice, we should tighten bankruptcy laws to prevent coal and other fossil fuel companies from evading their responsibility to their workers and to the communities that they have helped to pollute. In the Senate, I have fought to improve the standing of coal worker pensions and benefits in bankruptcy –– and as president, I will work with Congress to pass legislation to make these changes a reality. 
 
Ensure insurers accurately price climate risk 
 
Insurers are the financial intermediaries most directly exposed to climate change’s risks because their core business requires them to underwrite damages on physical property. As the climate crisis accelerates the size and scale of disasters, the models that insurers have long relied on are increasingly unpredictable, generating unprecedented losses. In 2017 and 2018 alone, insurance companies paid out an estimated $219 billion in natural disaster-related claims –– the highest for any two-year period in history. One California-based insurer filed for bankruptcy after it couldn’t pay out the millions it owed policyholders whose homes had been destroyed in California’s Camp Fire.
 
But despite insurance companies knowing the size of the climate risk — they literally write it into their risk models — still they fan the flames of the climate crisis by underwriting the fossil fuel companies behind the crisis. Large insurers had over $500 billion in fossil fuel-related investments as of 2016. And of the combined $15 trillion in assets managed by the world’s 80 largest insurers, an average of only one percent is allocated to low-carbon investments. If insurers stopped providing insurance for coal-fired power plants it would be nearly impossible to secure financing for new power plants.
 
Instead of halting the effects of climate change, insurers are passing on the high prices to consumers — or foregoing offering protection to vulnerable Americans altogether. In some places, insurance companies are pulling out of areas entirely, leaving consumers exposed. For example, the number of new and renewed homeowners’ insurance policies fell by 8,700 in California counties at greatest risk for wildfires. But some insurance providers will still write policies in vulnerable areas, ratcheting up the monthly prices consumers pay to counterbalance their increased risk. Premiums rose in every single state in the nation over the past decade, with states in tornado alley experiencing the highest jumps by an average of over $500. And private companies are taking advantage of the price increases: the number of private flood insurers has more than doubled since 2016, and they’ve taken in an additional half a billion in premiums since the prior year.
 
It’s time to hold insurance companies accountable for the risk they’re spreading through the financial system — and through vulnerable communities. I’ll work with Congress to make large insurance companies doing business in the U.S. disclose the size of the premiums they’re deriving from coal, oil and gas projects, associated infrastructure, and companies. I’ll investigate insurers who talk out of both sides of their mouth when they deny coverage to policyholders under the guise of too much climate risk, while simultaneously insuring fossil fuel projects. I’ll push the SEC to require insurance companies to show that they have evaluated climate-related risks in their underwriting processes and in their reserves. I will reform the National Flood Insurance Program by making it easier for existing residents to move out of flood-prone properties – both inland and coastal – including a program to buy back those properties from low-income homeowners at market value. And within my first term I will ensure the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood maps are fully updated, so that we can raise the standard for new construction through the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard.
 
Personnel is Policy
 
At the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, economic leaders from across the world highlighted the vital need to include climate risks in economic analysis. But Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin found himself in a minority of one, arguing that costs were being overestimated when considering the impacts of climate change. Either he’s uninformed or he’s lying: study after study shows that we are drastically underestimating the cost of the climate crisis. 
 
I have often said that personnel is policy. The regulators in charge of protecting the American people need to understand the risk that the climate crisis poses to our entire financial system — and the millions whose livelihoods depend on it. That’s why I will appoint at every level of the system financial regulators committed to holding financial institutions accountable for climate risk. Here’s what that means:  

I will appoint a Treasury Secretary who — unlike Steven Mnuchin — believes in the power of markets to help defeat the climate crisis: because right now, research in both of those fields shows how vital it is that we expose the climate risk. 
 

I’ll appoint financial regulators — including Federal Reserve governors, Commodity Futures Trading Commission commissioners, and leadership of every other agency represented on the Financial Stability Oversight Council — who understand the clear threat climate change poses to our financial system and who implement policy that addresses financial institutions’ exposure to climate risks and hold them accountable to addressing.
 

I’ve already pledged to appoint an SEC chair who will use all existing tools to require robust disclosure of climate-related risks. I’ll also appoint SEC commissioners who will manage the threat climate change poses to the economy by pushing for corporate disclosure of climate risk and a shift of finances away from fossil fuels. 

The size and the scope of the risk that climate poses to our financial system requires immediate action. I’ve committed to transitioning us away from Donald Trump’s climate-denying administration at a speed unmatched by any transition in modern history, so that we can begin tackling the urgent challenges ahead on Day One. As part of that transition, I will announce my choices for Cabinet, including a Treasury Secretary who understands the financial risks of the climate crisis, by December 1, 2020. And I’ll staff all senior and mid-level White House positions, like financial regulators, by Inauguration Day — so that we can begin de-risking our financial system from the moment I’m in office. 
 
Work with international allies
 
One of the next catastrophic global financial crises may well be caused by the growing climate crisis. The 2008 recession proved how financial crises are no longer isolated: their impact echoes across countries. That’s why addressing the financial risks of the climate crisis is an international issue. But the United States isn’t just lagging behind other countries on addressing the climate risk: right now, we’re not even in the same league. 
 
Leaders across the globe recognize the risk that the climate crisis poses to their financial systems: environmental concerns make up the top five long-term global economic risks for leaders surveyed in the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2020. Manymany other countries have not only recognized the risk but are already taking steps to address it. The President of the European Central Bank has called for climate change to be an “essential part of monetary policymaking,” and the Bank of England has introduced stress tests to assess the UK financial system’s exposure to climate-linked financial risks. Meanwhile, Donald Trump and his fossil fuel cronies are letting the U.S. fall behind, putting the financial well-being of millions of Americans at risk. 
 
A Warren Administration will work with international allies to build a more resilient financial and environmental future for our planet. And I’ll use every tool in the box to build that world. As President I’ll advocate for the Federal Reserve to join the global coalition of central banks known as the Network on Greening the Financial System. As we transition to a 100% clean energy economy, the United States should be a leader on the global stage, and having a seat at the table is the first step. As part of my New Approach to Trade, I will require implementation of the Paris Climate accord and the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies as preconditions for any trade agreement. My Green Marshall Plan will dedicate $100 billion to helping other countries purchase and deploy American-made clean energy technology that is manufactured right here at home. And we should end all American support for international oil and gas projects through the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. We should also commit to using America’s voting power in the World Bank and other global financial institutions to cut off investment in fossil fuel projects and to direct that investment into clean energy projects instead. Our efforts should be dedicated to accelerating the global transition to clean energy.